September 13, 2016 – More than 90,000 greyhounds have gone ‘missing’ in New South Wales, Australia, feared victims of ‘wastage’ as the greyhound racing industry calls the euthanasia of perfectly healthy dogs, a cruel practice that has contributed to the banning of greyhound racing in the state from July next year.
On 24 August, the New South Wales government became the first state in Australia to pass legalisation banning all greyhound racing from 1 July, 2017. The move came after a special commission of inquiry was established by the NSW government into illegal practices in greyhound racing. The inquiry was prompted by revelations on Australia’s Four Corners current events programme after an undercover investigation exposed the extent of crimes such as live baiting and other animal welfare abuses.
In the course of its inquiry, the commission received and reviewed over 151,000 pages of documentary material, and over 115 hours of videos and other recordings, from widespread sources including greyhound racing industry participants and representative organisations, welfare organisations and members of the general public. The commission also received 804 general submissions and 59 responses to issues papers it published seeking input from the greyhound racing industry and the public about the breeding of greyhounds, the social contribution of greyhound racing and governance of the greyhound racing industry in NSW.
The commission found that the usual life expectancy of a greyhound is between 12 to 15 years. Over the last 12 years, 97,783 greyhounds were born in NSW. Currently, there are about 6,809 registered greyhounds. The commission asked: what has happened to the unregistered 90,974 greyhounds born over the last 12 years?
In the greyhound racing industry, the mass slaughter of young and older greyhounds bred for the purpose of greyhound racing, and which are subsequently destroyed either prior to being named or raced, or upon retirement from racing, is called ‘wastage’.
In an internal confidential memo made public during the inquiry, industry body Greyhounds Australasia knew how widespread the problems were nationally.
The commission found that somewhere between 48,891 and 68,448 dogs were killed because they were considered too slow to pay their way or were unsuitable for racing, with some 40% of greyhounds born never making it to the race track. As one breeder stated, “Dogs who don’t have the instinct [to chase] or the tools to be a consistent winner – well a good handler can spot it a mile away… Most of the time I’d drown the pups.”
On 7 July NSW State Premier Mike Baird announced that NSW was to become the first Australian state to shut down greyhound racing after the special commission’s first recommendation was ending greyhound racing.
“The [Greyhound Racing Prohibition] Bill is the direct consequence of the special commission, which found compelling evidence of systemic animal cruelty in greyhound racing and concluded there was a culture of cover-up that gave no comfort to those who hoped it could be reformed,” he said.
Animals Australia, a not-for-profit organisation which has been publicly lobbying for the ban on greyhound racing, commended the NSW government.
“The passing of this legislation reflects the views of the vast majority of the NSW community who were appalled by the annual deaths of thousands of dogs whose only ‘crime’ was that they couldn’t run fast enough,” Animals Australia Chief Investigator Lyn White said.
“The scale of the cruelty and deaths that this industry inflicted over many decades is immeasurable. The only appropriate response was to shut it down.”
Photo: courtesy of Animals Australia
Video sent to Pet News Today from Kate Allen from Greyhound Rescue of re-homed greyhound
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