Greyhound Breeding Incentives to be reintroduced in Victoria – A Reform Backflip?

pakula

  • Following the 2015 greyhound racing live baiting expose, the discovery of several mass graves turned attention to industry “wastage” involving the killing of thousands of young and healthy dogs.

http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2015/02/16/4178920.htm

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/some-of-the-55-greyhounds-in-mass-grave-may-have-been-beaten-to-death/news-story/240bad5d19ec5bdbb786d02ee44a0ac5

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/mass-grave-images-show-keinbah-greyhounds-killed-in-groups-20160720-gq9qa3.html

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/greyhound-trainer-and-family-banned-over-mass-grave-20170815-gxwnbq.html

 

  • In July, 2015, Victorian racing minister Martin Pakula announced an end to the Breeding Incentive Scheme and emphasized animal welfare initiatives including reducing the numbers of greyhound being bred.

http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/greyhound-racing-announces-end-to-breeding-incentive-scheme/

 

  • The industry’s never-ending cycle of breeding and killing of young and healthy dogs is unpalatable to the community and has led to several national rallies to end the industry.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-07/greyhound-racing-national-rallies-call-for-end-to-sport/7146758

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-29/greyhound-racing-rally-aims-to-influence-inquiry-outcome/7123826

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-02/greyhound-racing-ban-hundreds-protesters-march-to-nsw-parliament/7683492

 

  • In 2016, Greyhound Racing Victoria’s annual report reveals that over 3000 registered greyhounds (more than 8 dogs per day) were killed in 2015-2016 for reasons including “end of career decisions by their owners.”

http://www.camdenadvertiser.com.au/story/4255565/more-than-3000-greyhounds-put-down/?cs=2452

 

  • Greyhounds Australasia estimates include that 7,000 greyhounds per year do not make it to the track (40% of all greyhounds whelped) and leaked information revealed that the industry has been responsible for the deaths of anywhere between 13,000 and 17,000 healthy greyhounds per year.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-28/nsw-greyhound-racing-industry-in-crisis-inquiry-hears/6809724

 

  • The industry’s killing of thousands of young healthy was largely responsible for the 2016 NSW ban announced by Mike Baird.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-20/greyhound-racing-ban-nsw-explained/7622052

 

  • In April this year, the Industry Consultative Group (ICG) of Greyhound Racing Victoria advised that the introduction of breeding incentive and reward schemes were crucial to restoring industry confidence.

https://www.grv.org.au/news/2017/04/11/icg-breeding-incentives-crucial-industry-confidence/

 

 

  • Earlier this month, GRV released a “Proposed Prize Money and Breeders’ Incentives Package” that is intended to be implemented later this year. The proposed package will deliver around $3.1 Million in returns to participants including more money to trainers and payment to breeders.

http://www.grv.org.au/prize-money-proposal/

 

 

GRNSW visits greyhound racing in Vietnam – We still don’t know why.

Australian greyhounds exported overseas are living in deplorable conditions

Below is the post by Gone are the Dogs regarding GRNSW’s visit to greyhound racing in Vietnam.

Links are provided below to related documents in pdf format.

 

Reproduced from the Gone are the Dogs Facebook page:

In June 2016, GRNSW went on a secret visit to the greyhound tracks in Vietnam.

This is the report.

Please share widely.

GRNSW doesn’t want the public to know about their activities.

One of the vets, John Newell, who helped start greyhound breeding in Vietnam, still works for GRNSW as a trackside vet. (Update – John Newelll is GRNSW Head Vet again) This man shouldn’t be around any animals). He also helped breeding programs in China. Yes China!

The heinous side to greyhound racing in Vietnam was exposed in 2015 with a video showing greyhounds being poisoned and then dumped in a hole.  GRNSW did an inquiry into greyhound exports in March last year and it has not been released to the public.

179 people were charged with exporting greyhounds but there is no public record of their penalties. Four people received 450 charges and there is no record of their penalties. Business as usual for the regulators.

http://www.animalsaustralia.org/features/730-ABC-exposes-greyhound-racing-export-cruelty.php About John Newell and his involvement in the export industry:

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/10/24/1098556290613.htmlhttp://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/10/24/1098556290613.html

http://agva.ava.com.au/sites/default/files/private/History%20of%20Greyhound%20Veterinary%20Practice_Dr%20John%20Murray.pdf

One of the tracks is a joint venture between a Vietnamese and an Australian business called Hemlock Services company (Australia).

http://www.duachovietnam.net/about/73-history-and-development

This is the Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/pg/duachovietnam.net/about/?ref=page_internal

What can you do to help?

1) Email GRNSW and ask them why they are visiting tracks in Vietnam? What is their relationship to Hemlock Services?

2) Ask them why John Newell is working for GRNSW he has helped breeding programs in both Vietnam and China, and helped expand greyhound racing in China when they are both countries where there are no animal welfare laws. Where greyhounds have been transported to dog meat slaughter houses, where dogs are boiled alive and have their skinned ripped off?

3) Ask them when they are going to release their report investigation into greyhound exports?

4) Ask them what penalties did the 179 participants receive for exporting greyhounds to Asia?

Why has this information been not available to the public? –> correspondence@grnsw.com.au –>

send a copy of your email to the NSW Minister of Racing, Paul Toole

paul.toole@parliament.nsw.gov.au

 

and the shadow minister,

Michael Daley.

CONNECT WITH MICHAEL

Email: maroubra@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Phone: (02) 9349 6440

Twitter: @michaeldaleyMP

Facebook: Michael Daley M

 

See pdf’s here:

GRNSW-Doc.952.-Monthly-Regulatory-Report-March-2016-china

GRNSW-report-on-Vietnam-visit-1

Is the widespread use of basket and barking muzzles during training and kennelling detrimental to the well-being of greyhounds?

One of the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds committee members saw the following article in GRV’s monthly magazine. The arguments are being made by Andrew Copley that barking muzzles help stop dogs from becoming dehydrated and that wearing them reduces their stress. What a load of bollocks!

If the trainers are so concerned about dehydration, why don’t they ensure that the dogs have plenty of water to drink? On the second point, if dogs are barking because they are stressed, gagging them will only stress them more.

To obtain an informed comment on this article, we asked veterinary behaviour consultant, Dr Karen Dawson BSc BVSc Hons MANZCVS (Behaviour).

Please see her comments below.

 

20629173_10154959975347775_14494609_o

“Yes, I believe that they can be detrimental; for a number of reasons. The routine use of any device that prevents an animal from engaging in normal species specific behaviours must be questioned.

Muzzles do not address the underlying emotional state of the greyhound; the motivation for the “undesirable” behaviour. Basket muzzles may allow the dog to pant and drink but they do not permit the dog to groom or perform other calming behaviours.

Barking muzzles, in my opinion, do prevent adequate panting and thermoregulation. It is very concerning that even today, they are still considered a necessity on race day or whilst in kennels.

Race day reactivity, excessive barking or maladaptive arousal is common; that does not make it normal.

Like basket muzzles, barking muzzles do not change the underlying emotional state of the dog.

Either way, muzzles prevent behavioural freedom.

Prohibiting access to perform a behaviour does not alter the desire to perform them.

Externally the dog may seem calmer because it is not barking. Internal changes are likely to be more complex and welfare negative than external behaviours suggest. Yes, dogs do lie down and move around less when muzzled. However this may be due to inhibition, distress, frustration or even learned helplessness rather than the muzzle having a calming effect.

More studies would be required to determine the effects of barking muzzles on physiological state, cortisol levels, hydration status, and during periods of heat when the dog needs to pant. Strategies to minimise kennel stress and barking need to be further developed and implemented.

Barking muzzles remain a simple solution to a complex, poorly understood problem. They are not in keeping with the current understanding of what constitutes good welfare.”

Submission by the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds, Inc. (CPG) for the Draft Victorian Code of Practice for the Keeping of Greyhounds.

Below is our submission regarding the Draft Victorian Code of Practice for the Keeping of Greyhounds.  Please use it as a guide for your own submission.

Please note. If you want to cut and paste, the best thing to do is to save the blog as a pdf file and cut and paste from the pdf file.

Submission details can be found at:

http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/pets/dogs/greyhounds/code-of-practice

 

About the CPG

 The CPG was started by several members of the Animal Justice Party in 2015, following the Four Corners live baiting expose. Today the Coalition is a mix of independent greyhound welfare campaigners, representatives of various animal welfare activist groups and representatives of greyhound rescue groups from across Australia.

The group is dedicated to exposing the truth behind the greyhound racing industry. Greyhounds are sensitive and intelligent dogs who have the same desires and instincts as all dog breeds. The lives lived by the vast majority of greyhounds in the industry are short and filled with misery. The vast majority of racing greyhounds are treated like objects for money making. Once their racing career is over at the young age of four or five years, these sentient beings are discarded like broken objects (often referred to as “product” by industry participants). During their racing days, they endure lives of solitary confinement in cages which is a life completely at odds with the social nature of the species.

 

CPG Submission

We support the objectives of the regulatory proposal (stated on page 9 of the Regulatory Impact Statement – RIS):

“To increase (improve) the quality of life and welfare of greyhounds, throughout their lifecycle and provide consistent management which will alleviate stress and therefore enable an easy, smooth and rapid, transition to a pet at any time point in its lifecycle”

We also are in agreement with the definition given on page 8 of the RIS regarding social license: “A social license to operate has been defined as the ‘ongoing acceptance or approval from the local community and other stakeholders’.

The Draft Victorian Code of Practice brings the treatment of greyhounds into significantly closer alignment with the societal expectations of the way dogs should be treated, as noted in the executive summary of the Regulatory Impact Statement notes (RIS).

The significant problems that have historically plagued and continue to plague the greyhound racing industry have been highlighted in the RIS on page 37 (section 1.4) as:

“a lack of transparency or identification of operators, lack of education or information of operators, perceived poor breeding, rearing and training programs, poor welfare of dogs, wastage (oversupply) of animals, governance of racing and betting, and the live baiting issue.”
These issues have been classified into six main categories as shown in Box 1 below.  Box 1

In particular, the industry “wastage” has been highlighted as a significant, if not the most significant, issue in the public’s digestibility of the industry. The treatment of the dogs by racing participants contributes to the extremely high number of dogs considered to have poor rehoming potential each year (see Box 2 below). The proposed code of practice will address this issue to a significant degree if it is endorsed – extending somewhat of a temporary lifeline to the industry (see the section titled “Sustainability of the Industry” below for elaboration on our argument that the lifeline is temporary).

Box 2 

“Of the 5,353 reported greyhounds being retired per annum on average, between 2013-14 and 2015-16, it is estimated that around 4,189 dogs are affected by poor rehoming potential each year.” (RIS, page 10)

 

Noted Positives of the Draft Code

  • The standardization and consolidation of existing legislation and local rules that give wider coverage and that cover greyhound welfare at all stages in their lifecycle.
  • The proposal to give greater powers to authorized officers to enforce and audit along with significantly higher penalties.
  • A focus to enable an easy, smooth and rapid transition of racing dogs to companion animal status thereby reducing the need for euthanasia as a result of lack of suitability to companion status.
  • The fact that the proposed code has been systematically researched, detailed and costed is impressive and to be applauded.

Shocking details are exposed in the RIS including Table 13 on page 11 showing the estimated numbers of greyhounds are at welfare risk from a number of factors including low staff to greyhound ratios in large facilities, lack of independent veterinary advice, inadequate health checks, insufficient housing (outdoor and indoor), insufficient perimeter fencing, and lack of clean or appropriate food receptacles.

It is therefore essential that the draft incorporates detailed requirements (as shown on pages 9 and 10 of the RIS) for the following:

  • Staff ratios
  • Independent veterinary advice
  • Health management plans
  • Storage of establishment records
  • Record of supplements, drugs, transfers, rehoming activities and disposals and provision of statement of health and management for dog transfers
  • Access to food receptacles which are regularly cleaned (all breeders) and adequate storage of food (large breeders only
  • Health checks and treatment plans for breeding females
  • Additional health check for all dogs
  • Bedding materials, exercise, enrichment and socialisation
  • Owners taking responsibility for the initial rehabilitation and rehoming
  • Perimeter fencing requirements
  • Adequate weather proofing of outdoor housing and raised sleeping beds
  • Indoor kennel facilities improvements, including sleeping areas with solid partitions and
  • GRV notifications of transfer between properties

 

Culture of Cruelty – resistant to change

The complaints regarding the proposed code both by Greyhounds Australasia and in News Corporation media only serve to reinforce the denial of neglect and cruelty that is rampant in the industry as well as the ignorance of appropriate care requirements. They also reinforce the very hardened attitudes that participants have pointing to an almost certain failure that the industry will ever be sufficiently reformed to meet community expectations of animal welfare.

For example:

  • On 25th June, 2017, an article published by Australian Racing Greyhound titled “Vic Cod of Practice: Let’s State the Bleedin’ Obvious” [1] fails to acknowledge that a significant proportion of greyhound racing participants do not provide adequate basic care requirements including shelter and water as detailed in the RIS.
  • During the week beginning 19th June, an article was published almost daily criticizing the code and running a scare campaign against the Andrews government [e.g., 2, 3]. The articles essentially argue that the very basic care and welfare requirements spelled out in the draft code are impractical.

The push back already being seen by industry participants to the draft welfare reforms strongly indicates that their non-compliance rates and poor treatment of dogs is acceptable practice for them, further strengthening the need for the code and its strong enforcement with significant penalties for breaches, as opposed to the current situation wherein “the penalty is often so small it offers no deterrent to the industry.” (RIS; p. 36)

These poor standards that are not in line with community expectations but considered acceptable by racing participants are highlighted by the following information extracted from the RIS (see Box 3 and Table 11 below).

Box 3 Table 11 As shown in Table 11 above, as many as 32% of participants do not comply with regulations because of the racing industry culture, attitude or their age, 32% lack the means or capability and 32% are ill-informed or lack the education.

The clear failure of the industry to treat dogs as the community expects, as evidenced by the low rehoming suitability rates already cited above (Box 1) and further data provided in the RIS (Box 2 and Table 11) further support the need for the detailed and strongly enforced reforms.

On page 43 of the RIS, it is highlighted that all dogs and all life cycles are at risk of poor welfare but dogs most at risk are those on properties that are small and hidden or not registered because they are avoiding being monitored and audited. According to the data, a total of 86.05% of breeders and trainers are classified as small (fewer than 9 dogs who make a start). Thus, the majority of racing dogs in Victoria are at risk of poor welfare, further reinforcing the importance of this code.

 

Participants’ Expressed Concerns about the Affordability of the Reforms 

Based on analysis, the impact of the proposed code on small business and competition – that is, on 97.5% of participants will be small. The RIS analysis shows that such participants are unlikely to face significantly different or disproportionate costs from complying with the code.

The rise in cost faced by small owners will be $1,550.00 per dog over its entire lifetime – which even includes costs of rehabilitation. Given that the average cost of a greyhound at auction is $5,800.00, the increased cost of just over 1.5 thousand dollars cannot be considered unaffordable. 

Areas of the Draft Code that need Attention and Change

  • Section 2.5 Muzzling – Barking muzzles should be banned at all times without exception. See case studies in the RIS document for evidence of misuse and resulting abuse with barking muzzles (see example in Box 5 below).
  • Section 3.1 Staff Ratio: The code states that “A minimum of one full-time staff member must be present onsite at the establishment during business hours for every 25 greyhounds (or equivalent) housed in the establishment. The staffing ratio must be maintained seven days per week.”  Given that, as highlighted on page 25 of the RIS, a total of 86.05% of breeders and trainers are deemed to have fewer than 9 dogs (see Table 2) and that the majority of racing dogs in Victoria at risk of poor welfare are those from small establishments, the draft code staffing stipulations do not apply to the majority of racing dogs in Victoria . The code needs to include specific requirements that will improve the welfare of the dogs belonging to the 86.05% of small establishments.
    As noted in more detail in a comment that follows this post, “together [the small trainers] are responsible for 10,819 registered greyhounds — more than half the total in the state. As staffing rules in the draft Code do not apply to them, the vast majority of Victoria’s racing dogs may be left without human oversight for hours at a time.”
    It is noteworthy that the Draft code for the care of greyhounds has a great deal of overlap with Victorian government’s code for Breeding and Rearing Businesses (i.e., puppy farms). This code is currently being reviewed by the government as there is evidence that it is not protecting dogs from cruelty. Having the draft code for greyhounds based upon a code shown to have serious failings means that it will not adequately protect greyhounds from neglect and suffering. This code needs to go further in its proposals. Staffing to dog ratio is one area that needs particular attention.
    Also, more needs to be done to protect greyhounds in small facilities. More detail about staff attendance requirements and socialisation needs to be provided.
  • Section 3.12 – The muzzling requirement during the 20 minutes walk per day for retired greyhounds should be removed as per recommendation by the Breed Specific Legislation review.
  • Section 4 relating to Exercise, training and enrichment: Treadmills should be banned and walking the dog should be encouraged instead. This is also more in line with the socialisation requirements for optimising rehoming.
  • Socialisation of dogs is a key factor to rehoming ability: In this regard, the draft code’s proposed 1 full-time staff member to 25 greyhounds falls far short of satisfactory socialisation requirements. According the McHugh report (see Volume 2, page 156), a minimum of 15 minutes of care per day just for feeding and cleaning is required to adequately care for dogs in the industry. Four full-time staff would be required just for feeding and cleaning 100 pups. To devote one hour for socialisation per pup each day, would require an estimated 13 full-time staff.
  • Section 3.9 Rearing – Given the staff to dog ratio specified in section 3.1 of one full-time staff member per 25 dogs, it is difficult to see how one person in charge of 25 dogs could spend 30 minutes each day per individual pup aged between 4-8 weeks. The same applies to greyhounds 16 weeks +. The ratio of staff member to dog needs to be reviewed.
  • Section 4.2 of the code refers to emergency situations where euthanasia is required. This gives an escape clause to the requirement for veterinary performed killing.
  • Section 4.3 of the code – Greyhound transport vehicle: These are necessary and common sense requirements except that maintaining a temperature between 10 and 32 degrees Celsius needs revising since 10 is too cold and 32 is too hot.

Box 5 – Misuse and Abuse relating to Barking Muzzles (Case Study 1 – RIS page
53)
 

box 5

  • Section 6.3.13 of the code – Retirement and rehoming of greyhounds: As discussed in a later section, the flood of greyhounds moved on from the racing industry is undoubtedly displacing other breeds of dogs in desperate need of a home. The specification in the code that authorizes the surrendering of greyhounds to a registered pound or shelter, or a community foster care network, will only intensify this problem. If this is to remain in the code, then dedicated funding should be allocated by the industry to support such surrenders.
  • Greyhounds surrendered for experimentation: No mention is made of greyhounds surrendered to research institutions for experimentation. This should be prohibited under any circumstances. Racing greyhounds have already been used in the life endangering race industry. They should not suffer a second round of exploitation for experimentation and subsequent death, for research where results more often than not cannot be generalised to humans.

 

Sustainability of the Industry – Wastage

The issue of “wastage” is not specifically addressed in the proposed code, however, it is argued that the reduction of wastage will results as a positive consequence of good management practices during a greyhound’s lifecycle (RIS; page 8). This reduction is proposed to be achieved through an easier, smoother and more rapid transition of dogs from racing status to companion animal status.

At the same time that it is argued that the objective of the code is not to deal with wastage, it is made clear that greyhound racing operates under social license and that such license is at risk if it continues to involve the deaths of young and healthy dogs purely for the purpose of gambling.

Although reducing industry ‘wastage’ is crucial for the industry’s social license, given that a minimum number of dogs is required to be bred every year to keep the industry going – 4,500 each year in Victoria alone – according to a recently published article in The Australian [2], how realistic is this goal?

Rehoming most of the dogs bred by the industry is simply not a realistic proposal. There are simply not enough homes in Australia for greyhounds bred for the industry since a greyhound’s lifespan is roughly 12 years and the industry will churn out thousands of dogs every single year.

Moreover, rehomed greyhounds are inevitably displacing other dogs from being adopted and so the kill rate of other dog breeds will increase.

Another major problem is that the vast majority of greyhounds are rescued and rehomed by volunteer rescue individuals and groups, at their own expense. This situation is not only unsustainable, it is exploitative and unethical [4].

 

Conclusion

The cruelty to dogs and other animals used in live baiting, and the exploitation of compassionate people for an industry that merely serves to increase gambling and to compound the size of already problematic gambling in Australia is highly exploitative and unethical [5].

Allowing greyhound racing to continue particularly when, as reported in the RIS, the vast majority of participants are hobbyists is highly irresponsible. Considering that claims of the economic contribution the greyhound racing industry makes to the state of Victoria have been significantly exaggerated and that it’s contribution is projected to further decline at a compound annual rate of 2.3% [7], the most responsible government action is to phase the industry out to an imminent shutdown.

 

References

  1. Australian Racing Greyhound (25.6.17). Vic Code of Practice: Let’s State the Bleedin’ Obvious. https://australianracinggreyhound.com/australian-greyhound-racing/victorian-greyhound-racing/vic-code-of-practice-lets-state-the-bleedin-obvious/88410/
  2. The Australian (19.6.17). Labor follows lead, and goes for the dogs. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/labor-follows-lead-and-goes-for-the-dogs/news-story/dd0a236e4b47e6dc7eb0510f8fcceda3
  3. The Australian (22.6.17). Draft Victorian code has taken the fun out. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/draft-greyhound-code-has-taken-the-fun-out/news-story/55585f964dbd54e3df8d89ee070b1505
  4. https://coalitionprotectgreyhounds.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/greyhound-racing-being-a-rescuer-in-an-industry-based-on-exploitation/
  5. https://coalitionprotectgreyhounds.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/the-greyhound-racing-industry-makes-a-questionable-economic-contribution-to-victoria-but-is-unquestionably-harmful/
  6. IBISWord (2015) IBISWorld Industry Report R9120 Horse and Dog Racing in Australia.

The Greyhound Racing Industry makes a Questionable Economic Contribution to Victoria but is Unquestionably Harmful.

grv photo6

 

The recently released “Size and Scope of the Victorian Greyhound Racing Industry” report [1], states that in 2015-2016, the industry was responsible for generating more than $408.6 million dollars in value added contribution to the Victorian economy.

The claim is made by GRV that “Greyhound racing contributes hundreds of millions of dollars annually to Victoria’s economy through direct expenditure, salaries, flow-on effects and profits as well as creating thousands of jobs, mainly in regional communities.” [2].

In accepting the claims made by the report, it needs to be noted that:

  1. There are significant problems with the validity of the IER as it is based on
    unaudited data provided by the racing industry itself, as stated in the report’s
    disclaimer (see below).
  2. It has also been prepared “to meet the requirements set out by GRV within their terms of reference”. Thus, the report cannot be expected to provide objective or unbiased data. Rather, it has been produced to portray the industry in the most positive light possible.

Paste In 1: Report Disclaimer

1 report disclaimer

one

Bias is evident in the way the statistics have been constructed and reported. For example, it states its key findings at the beginning of the report as follows:

Paste In 2: Key Findings

2 key findings

Expenditure

As shown in Paste In 2, the noted direct expenditure amount is $298.3 not the $408.6 million highlighted by GRV above.

 Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 11.52.46 am

Value-added expenditure includes any expenditure that is not directly related to the industry, and it is this amount that is the larger figure of $408.6. As noted in the report itself, this expenditure would not necessarily fall if the industry ceased to exist as local people would spend their money on other activities and therefore, the contribution of those other sectors would rise and replace that generated by the industry (see Paste In 3 – taken from the report). 

Paste In 3: Methodology Note in the Size and Scope Report

3 methodology

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 11.56.07 am

Employment

Upfront in the report as shown in Paste in 1, it is stated that there are the equivalent of 2,888 full-time jobs (FTE) generated by the industry but later in the report, it is made clear this figure includes indirect jobs. In fact, the total of direct FTE jobs is 1,216 (see Paste In 4).

On page 23 the report states: “In 2015/16, the economic activity generated by the Victorian greyhound racing industry directly sustained 1,216 full time equivalent positions in Victoria. In addition to the direct employment impact, the activities of the greyhound racing industry also help to sustain a further 1,672 FTE jobs in support industries.”

four

As with direct expenditure, the indirect jobs currently supported by greyhound racing would be absorbed by the consequent increased size of other sectors if greyhound racing ceased to exist.

It is also noteworthy that, in its 2015 Industry report for Horse and Dog Racing [8], IBISWorld, concluded that “Industry revenue has been declining due to flat attendance numbers” and industry revenue is declining at a compound annual rate of 2.3%.

 

Greyhound Racing is a Gambling Industry

In their 2014 piece, Markham and Young state “The growth of ‘Big Gambling’ in Australia is an ongoing class project. It is one that has transferred, with industrial efficiency, billions of dollars from the pay packets of the working classes to the bank accounts of a super-rich elite.” [3]

They argue that a viable gambling industry without the extensive exploitation of the Australian working class in unimaginable since the data show that gambling problems are concentrated amongst the poorest social groups in Australia, and gambling revenue largely depends on problem gamblers [3].

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 11.57.24 am

Problem Gamblers

The data indicate that gambling industries do not create “new jobs”. Rather, they simply divert employment from other sectors and they don’t create new wealth either. Rather, they transfer wealth from poor to rich. Moreover, gambling likely reduces economic activity by diverting gamblers away from productive labor [3].

6

According to the Productivity Commission, as many as 170,000 Australian adults face significant gambling problems and a further 350,000 are vulnerable. Of concern, for every addicted gambler, there are 10 more people who are seriously affected. This includes families, friends and employers. According to the Commission, 60% of problem gamblers who have sought counselling, have spoken of suicide. As many as 400 suicides each year can be attributed to addictive gambling [4].

7

Psychological Distress and Problem Gambling

It is a known fact that the greyhound racing industry destroys thousands upon thousands of animal lives. It is also clear that it significantly contributes to the psychological distress and financial ruin of thousands upon thousands of Australian humans, most of who are already battling in our society [3].

A 2015 Australian Psychological Society survey into Stress and wellbeing, reported a strong association between gambling and psychological distress including severe anxiety and depression [5]. Governments themselves have acknowledged this relationship [6].

The evidence points to a desperate need to reduce gambling access and to make it less attractive so that people vulnerable to this societal vice are not so easily seduced. The irony is that while touting the economic benefits of the greyhound racing industry, governments are pouring millions of dollars into responsible gambling funds aimed at addressing the “risks of problem gambling and associated harms to the community.” [7].

Why not just shut down greyhound racing and at least circumvent the problem associated with this one form of gambling for which the social license has well and truly expired?

Let’s get the dogs off the track and onto the sofa where most Australians would like them to be.

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 11.59.50 am

grv photo1

References

  1. Size and Scope of the Victorian Greyhound Racing Industry.
    http://www.grv.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/GRV_VGRI.pdf
  2. New report highlights greyhound racing’s economic contribution to Victoria’s
    economy. http://www.grv.org.au/vgri/
  3. Markham, F., & Young, M. (March, 2014). Who winds from ‘Big Gambling’ in Australia? The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/who-wins-from-big-gambling-in-australia-22930
  4. Maslen, G. (2012). Waiting for the wins. http://www.aph.gov.au/sitecore/content/Home/About_Parliament/House_of_Representatives/About_the_House_Magazine/Previous/ATH45/waiting.
  5. Australian Psychological Society (2015). Stress and wellbeing: How Australians are coping with life. https://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/2014-APS-NPW-Survey-WEB-reduced.pdf
  6. Stress and Wellbeing report 2015 https://www.responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/information-and-resources/whats-new/stress-and-wellbeing-report-2015
  7. Problem gamblers get more help in budget. http://westernweekender.com.au/2017/06/problem-gamblers-get-more-help-in-budget/
  8. IBISWord (2015) IBISWorld Industry Report R9120 Horse and Dog Racing in Australia.

Greyhound Racing: Being a Rescuer in an Industry based on Exploitation.

 

The Greyhound Racing Industry in Australia is responsible for the breeding and discarding of thousands of young and healthy dogs every single year. In NSW alone, over the last decade, 97,783 pups were whelped and only 391 were rehomed by the industry adoption program (GAP). See table below.

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 4.10.55 pm

In its report to the NSW commission of Inquiry, GRNSW indicated that it would not be able to rehome more than 10% of the greyhounds produced by the industry in any single year [1].

In Victoria, the industry has declared that its goal is to rehome 100% of all greyhounds bred by the industry, however, what it has not publicly declared is that it expects 50% of them to be rehomed by volunteers and volunteer groups without any industry support [2].

To Rescue or Not to Rescue? 

Some argue that the huge numbers of greyhounds bred every year, desperately needing homes are displacing tens of thousands of other animals who also desperately need a home. Rescuers can never rescue all the greyhounds bred for the industry because the sad reality is that, even though Australia has one of the highest companion animal rates of any country in the world, there will never be enough homes in Australia for every greyhound bred by the industry.

The life span of a greyhound is around 10 to 12 years while the industry breeds thousands of dogs every single year. Even with very basic math ability, it is easy to see that reaching saturation point is inevitable and will come quickly, if the vast majority of greyhounds who are bred are rehomed. So, the proposal of 100% adoption rates as a solution to the industry’s “waste” problem is a ludicrous one at best. It is certainly a disconcertingly deceptive attempt and promoting a more positive public image than the industry deserves.

Nevertheless, rescuing greyhounds who have been discarded by the industry has many positives.

 

The Positives of Rescuing

The most obvious positive reason for rescuing greyhounds is that, no matter how few or how many dogs are rescued, those who have been saved have escaped an otherwise certain death.

There are many other powerful reasons including that rescue groups and individuals have been at the forefront of:

  • bringing attention to the plight of the exploitation of greyhounds in the industry,

and of

  • highlighting the beautiful, loyal, and gentle nature of the greyhound breed, once generally believed to be dangerous and aggressive by the general public – largely as a result of the muzzling requirement [3].

So, it is without doubt that greyhound rescue groups have been at the forefront of exposing the industry’s “wastage” and have rescued many more greyhounds from a certain death than the token industry Greyhound Adoption Programs have.

It is also the rescue groups that have mobilized the many Shut It Down rallies that have been held nationwide over the past few years.

Without the exposure that has been mobilized by many rescue groups and rescue individuals, the greyhound industry would find it much easier to continue going about the business of the never ending cycle of breeding, doping, live baiting, racing and killing dogs without any scrutiny, as they did for many decades – 90 years, in fact [4].

The Negatives of Rescuing

 Industry Impression Management

On the other hand, it has been argued that rescuing greyhounds helps to enable the industry to keep going by making it look more sustainable. The letter by Paul Archer (see below) makes this point.

Indeed, “looking sustainable” was what the industry Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) was undoubtedly established to do. The establishment of GAP is little more than a public relations exercise aimed at creating a positive public impression of the industry – making it appear as though the industry cares about the dogs and thereby suppressing potentially negative perceptions about the fate of industry dogs.

The abominably poor adoption record of GAP, highlights that it is a scheme that has never been seriously invested into. It can be surmised that it was never the intention of the industry to seriously invest in it. Its mere existence has served its intended purpose – to improve the public image of the industry, and thereby help it to look sustainable.

 

 

Untitled

To the people who on the frontline of rescuing greyhounds, Archer’s letter is hugely offensive because they see intimately the difference they make to the thousands of dogs whose lives have been saved by them.

However, the general public is unaware of the dedication and persistence of foster carers and rescue groups, taking in one dog after another who is are often traumatized, poorly socialized, or injured.

The public doesn’t see the stress of individuals involved in rescuing, does not see them being pulled in a million different directions trying to deal with trainers who want the greyhounds gone NOW or be killed (to make room for the next lot).

The public doesn’t see them negotiate payment plans with vets for an endless number of dogs.

The public doesn’t see them coordinate volunteers who may or may not be reliable, and juggle doing the charity’s accounts.

The public generally doesn’t know how many hours are poured into fundraising activities to keep these volunteer rescue groups afloat so they can keep rescuing greyhounds discarded by the industry, year after year after year.

So, the industry’s impression management strategy is working.

At the end of the day, all the wider public sees is that greyhounds are being rescued and are now living in loving homes. They don’t see the hard work of volunteer rescue groups who rehome greyhounds without industry funding.

Most importantly, the public is lulled into a sense of security that, at the end of the day, there are rescue groups who save ex-racing dogs from an otherwise certain death.

And the industry is very careful about not exposing the numbers of dogs who are NOT RESCUED – The sheer thousands of them, year after year after year.

 

The Role of a Biased Media in Upholding the Illusion of a Sustainable Industry

 Beginning from when Mike Baird announced the ban in NSW, News Corporation media outlets including The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and 2GB radio station shock jock Ray Hadley mounted a scare campaign to ensure the industry was not shutdown or compromised in any way. One major tactic was to argue that a ban would be killing all of the greyhounds currently in the industry.

The public swallowed it because what was not made clear is that if homes could not be found for those dogs once the shutdown occurred and they were killed, that would be no different to their outcome anyway. The vast majority of dogs bred for the industry are killed when they are no longer of any economic value.

 

News Corp have now started a scare campaign to compromise the reforms recently announced by GRV and the Andrews government. Again, the argument they are using is that if the industry is compromised – made smaller, dogs will be killed.

 

Industry Adoption Rates Around the Country

The ACT

In their welfare strategy – November 2015, Canberra Greyhound Racing Club (CGRC) Board of Management (BOM) proposed that “all racing greyhounds must have a ‘life after racing’ and are committed to work towards the development of an on-site facility for re-homing of retired greyhounds” [5].

No mention was made of greyhounds who do not make it as racers.

The ACT Greyhound Support Network (AGSN) has over 500 members, raised over $30,000 for rehoming charities and most importantly – working with registered charities, has helped home 300 greyhounds in the ACT.

Queensland

The MacSporran Report into the Queensland Greyhound Racing Industry revealed that, while approximately 24,230 greyhounds were whelped between 2003 and 2013, the industry through GAP, rehomed only 865 between 2004/05 and 2013/14.

no of pups

no of adoptions

 

GAP rehomed 230 dogs in 2015/2016. In contrast, the three largest greyhound specific rescues in Queensland rehomed over 330 dogs in 2016 alone. In the six months from 1 July 2016, GAP rehomed 172 dogs with an approximate $50,000 funding injection [6].

South Australia

Greyhound Racing, South Australia’s Annual Report 2015-2016 states that 307 greyhounds were rehomed through GAP. It is claimed in the report that industry participants rehomed 322 themselves. However, this number includes greyhounds kept for breeding and those surrendered to volunteer charity rescues.

GRSA’s plans to realize a “full rehoming strategy for all greyhounds in South Australia by the middle of 2018” and defines full rehoming as excluding “euthanasia undertaken for medical, behavioural or legal reasons only”.

GRSA has also included in their claim that “the South Australian industry, through the collective vehicles of GAP, other rehoming programs and participant placements, will have the collective capacity to rehome more than the 850 greyhounds that it estimates will be required annually to achieve its full rehoming target within the coming two years.” [7]. * Note the bolding is ours.

Tasmania

The Inquiry into Greyhound Racing in Tasmania revealed that 600 to 700 greyhounds are whelped in Tasmania each year, while the number of greyhounds rehomed by GAP in 2014/2015 was 62, an increase from just 35 in 2013/14.

In contrast, the volunteer based charity group, Brightside Farm Sanctuary “has rescued and re-homed over 300 greyhounds” and had taken in 25 greyhounds in one month alone [8, 9].

Western Australia

 Racing and Wagering Western Australia’s (RWWA) 2016 Annual Report states they “will aim to have every healthy and behaviourally sound greyhound re-homed” [10].

In 2015/16, 121 greyhounds were adopted through GAP while around 600 are whelped every year. ABC News reported in October 2016, that “one volunteer-run group alone manages to find homes for another 300.” [11].

New South Wales

In chapter 18 of the NSW Commission of Inquiry report it is noted that between 2009 and 2015 the average number of greyhound pups whelped each year was 7,596.

GRNSW’s annual reports reveal that, until 2008, GRNSW had a limited rehoming program.

 

nsw table

 In the above table taken from the McHugh enquiry, it can be seen that in 2015/16, despite having $436,207.00 revenue which is astronomically more than is the case for small volunteer based rescue groups, GAP NSW only rehomed 202 dogs.

Victoria

 The 2015/16 GRV Annual Report states that in 2015/2016, a total of 895 dogs was rehomed through GAP. In this same period, 634 litters were registered with GRV. Assuming 6 pups per litter indicates that in this period alone, 3,804 dogs born and registered with GRV.

With this number of dogs is born in one single year and only 895 dogs rehomed, there remains a large number of dogs needing to be rehomed. The reality is, most are killed.

Conclusion

The greater the number of dogs that is rehomed makes the industry look more sustainable. This is true even though the vast majority of dogs is being rescued by volunteer charity groups and NOT BY THE INDUSTRY.

The reality is that greyhound racing requires a minimum number of dogs to be bred for the industry to continue. This was recently reinforced in an article in The Australian on 19th June, 2017 in which the owners of News Corporation and Punters.com are running a campaign aimed at scaring the Andrews government in Victoria into diluting its recently announced draft code of practice for keeping of greyhounds [12]. This is not surprising, given their vested economic interest in keeping greyhound racing going strong and echoes their 2016 campaign following the NSW ban announcement. In this recent article, it is stated that “there has to be approximately 4000 – 4500 greyhounds born each year to sustain the racing schedule in Victoria of 23 race meetings a week.” [13]

What can we do?

Exposure of industry wastage exposes the industry’s unsustainability.

It was the sheer thousands of healthy, young dogs killed by the industry that nearly brought it down in NSW and is what the industry is now focusing on. The industry needs the public to believe that the dogs are going to nice, loving homes when they “retire” rather than knowing the truth – that most either die on the track or are killed because they are unsuitable for racing or because THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH HOMES IN AUSTRALIA for the sheer thousands of dogs bred for the industry – 4,500 each year in Victoria alone as recently announced in The Australian (see above).

The Baird backflip was brought about in large part by News Corporation propaganda about numbers of greyhounds that would be killed if the ban went ahead and by raising doubts about the number of dogs that the Commission of Inquiry reported are killed by the industry every year.

  • The number of dogs killed is a key factor in public digestibility of the industry going ahead or dying.
  • Rescuing helps dogs makes the industry look sustainable.

 

Raising the Profile of Rescue Groups

We need to raise the profile of rescue groups and the lives they save but even more importantly, of the lives they can’t save. 

It needs to be highlighted to the general public that the unfortunate reality is that greyhound racing breeds roughly 10 – 15 times more dogs ANNUALLY than can realistically be rehomed. Kindhearted volunteers in rescue groups are sadly being exploited to rehome as many dogs as they can, for fear that dogs will otherwise be killed. However, rescuers are at breaking point because of the sheer number of dogs flowing in who cannot be saved.

Meanwhile, the trainers who dump their dogs are relieved of their guilt because volunteers have taken on their problem. For the sanity of kindhearted people, and for moral and ethical reasons, this has to end.

An Industry based on Exploitation.

The public needs to see that the industry is not only exploiting greyhounds, it is also exploiting any individual (e.g., veterinarians, vet nurses) without the heart to leave a dog behind to be killed because its racing days are over or because it was too slow to ever even be raced.

 The public needs to see that greyhound racing exploits. It exploits dogs. It exploits small animals used as live bait. It exploits kindhearted people who abhor animal cruelty and it exploits people addicted to gambling.

It has no social license.

It serves no social benefit – rather it cause immense harm to humans and animals.

It must end – Shut It Down!

References

  1. See p.3 and p.7 of the Inquiry report Vol.1 http://www.greyhoundracinginquiry.justice.nsw.gov.au/Documents/Report-SCI-Greyhound-Racing-Industry-NSW-Volume-1.pdf
  2. http://www.grv.org.au/about-us/grv-annual-reports/
  3. http://animalsaustralia.org/features/greyhound-history.php
  4. https://australianracinggreyhound.com/australian-greyhound-racing/history/australian-greyhound-racing-celebrates-its-90th-anniversary/88127/
  5. http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/2445cf_ec16fb4137014ef09fa87f47b668d733.pdf
  6. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/greyhound-regulator-cant-rule-out-continued-live-baiting-20170215-gudw2a.html
  7. https://sa.thedogs.com.au/Uploads/2015_2016%20GRSA%20Annual_Report.pdf
  8. https://tasracing.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/TasracingARep_SpreadsWeb.pdf
  9. http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/CTEE/Joint/Reports/Final%20Report%20tabled%2014%20September%202016.pdf
  10. http://www.rwwa.com.au/home/documents/RWWA_AnnualReport_2016_Combined.pdf
  11. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-30/rspca-attacks-wa-greyhound-industry-euthanasia-rates/7976544
  12. http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/pets/dogs/greyhounds/code-of-practice
  13. Greyhound racing under threat in Victoria: Labor follows lead, and goes for the dogs.

 

 

Grey2K USA Greyhound Racing Factsheet

greyhound racing photo 1

Attached is a pdf of Grey2K USA – Worldwide’s factsheet for Greyhound racing around the world.

This article gives an up-to-date summary of the industry around the world.

GREY2K-USA-WORLDWIDE-DOG-RACING-FACT-SHEET-MAY-2017.pdf

“Australia, reported 3,006 litters in 2015. Using the conservative estimate of six pups per litter, the industry bred approximately 18,036 greyhounds that year. In 2015, only 11,732 were registered to race, a discrepancy of 6,304 dogs.”

“Australia regularly exports greyhounds to New Zealand, having exported 813 greyhounds between 2009 and 2012.11 In addition, it is estimated that since 2011, Australian trainers have also exported over 1,700 dogs to mainland China, Macau, and Vietnam, jurisdictions with no animal welfare laws in place.”

Mike Baird truly was a conviction politician and for doing the right thing, in the current political climate that is heavily influenced by corporate interests and career politicians, Baird paid the price of being forced out of the political system.

Despite the extremely unfortunate reversal of the NSW ban, Australians are now informed about the reality of greyhound racing and they have a heavy distaste for it.

As with everything in modern politics, the market will ultimately decide the fate of greyhound racing since what is moral and what is right is playing a secondary role.

The most recent IBIS world report also indicates that racing generally, including greyhound racing is a dying industry. In its executive summary, the report states”

“Horseraces and greyhound races are fixtures of Australia’s sporting culture….However, ticket sales and revenue from non-event based thoroughbred, harness and greyhound races have declined.”

“The increasing popularity of sports betting sites that are accessible on a range of different online platforms has also reduced the share of gambling expenditure on racing and restricted a key revenue source for racing authorities and race clubs over the past five years. These effects have caused industry revenue to decline at compound annual rate of 2.3% over the five years through 2015-16 to reach $1.5 billion. As gamblers continue to shift to online sports betting platforms, revenue is set to fall by 1.8% in 2015-16. A recent performance-enhancing drug scandal surrounding the banned substance cobalt has also brought many industry players under scrutiny and tarnished the industry’s reputation.”

“These challenges are set to remain prevalent over the next five years and the industry is therefore expected to continue declining. Revenue is forecast to decrease….. This trend, coupled with falling thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing attendances, is expected to contribute to the industry’s decline over the next five years. Projected consolidation is also expected to force smaller and less profitable participants out of the industry over this period.”

 

It is only a matter of time. We will see the end of greyhound racing sooner rather than later!

 

 

Media Release 4 May 2017 Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board

This report makes for  disturbing reading. See it here:
media_release_lrr42.1_gar106(1)(a)_gar1…13176d-cad7-41e4-b632-030422d4f719.pdf

Despite the obvious lack of care for his dogs, Victorian greyhound racing trainer, Mr Hill received only minor sentencing as follows:

“The charges against Mr. Hill are all serious ones and strike at the good name of the industry and have enormous relevance for animal welfare. On each of the two charges under GAR 106 (1)(d) we fine Mr. Hill the sum of $1,000. On the charge under LRR 42.1 concerning the keeping of greyhounds in dangerous conditions or conditions detrimental to their health we disqualify Mr. Hill for a period of 6 months. On the charge under GAR 106 (1)(a) concerning the condition of and access to water we fine Mr. Hill $500. On the charge under GAR 106 (1)(c) concerning the condition of the kennels we fine Mr. Hill $200. The total penalty is a period of disqualification of 6 months and fines totalling $2,700. The period of disqualification shall commence immediately.”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑