In line with recommendations from the MacSporran Report, Racing Queensland has proposed to increase the cost of the registration of a breeding female greyhound from $250 to $1200. The additional $950 will be diverted to greyhound rehoming and welfare initiatives. We were pretty surprised to see this response from the industry: so surprised, in fact, that we had to blog about it because a Facebook post just ain’t gonna cut it this time.
What’s the big deal about this fee increase, you may ask? Given that one breeding female greyhound can have three litters in her lifetime (more if the breeder applies for permission) and greyhounds have an average of six puppies per litter, that additional $950 breaks down to just roughly $53 per puppy. That’s not even enough to cover a greyhound’s microchipping and vaccination prior to adoption, what more desexing or fixing career-ending injuries like broken legs. So an extra $950 per breeding female to help rehome her future babies is really not much to ask, right?
Wrong. (Rant pending.)
Now, you would think an industry that rehomes a pitiful average of just 86.5 dogs a year (in contrast to the estimated 2,203 puppies it pumps out every year)* would hang its head in shame after the public hiding it received in 2015 for its appalling treatment of animals, and humbly do what it can to make amends.
Instead, the Australian Federation of Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Associations (AFGBOTA) has decided to respond to Racing Queensland’s proposal by whining about how having to contribute to greyhound welfare is going to sound the “death knell” for the breeding industry. God forbid they put in a few hundred bucks per breeding female to help safeguard the welfare of all those puppies they will be producing from her.
Next, they go on about how the notion that they are overbreeding greyhounds is a fallacy. Because, you know, every volunteer-run greyhound rescue charity in the state is just begging people to foster incoming ex-racedogs, flipping sausages to fundraise for kennelling fees (for incoming dogs that don’t have a foster home awaiting them) and frantically trying to increase greyhound adoptions for shits and giggles.
AFGBOTA itself claims that 2015 saw a 30% decrease in breeding (i.e. roughly 1,542 puppies were born) and that 2016 will see a further 20 – 30% drop on this (i.e. roughly 1,079 puppies will be born this year). Considering the industry’s ‘rehoming record’ is 128 adoptions in seven months (extrapolate that to 219 adoptions a year if they keep rehoming at the same rate), there is still a long way to go before every dog bred for racing gets a chance to live out his or her full lifespan in a loving home. Face the facts: there are too many greyhounds being bred, and not enough homes for them to go to once the racing industry is finished with them.
Finally, they also claim that the 17,000 dogs killed every year in Australia is “grossly exaggerated” and does not reflect industry estimations. Industry estimations which, I might add, they don’t share with the Gold Coast Bulletin even though they are quick to shoot down the figure mentioned by Animal Liberation Queensland. It must be very disappointing for AFGBOTA to learn then, that there is a Greyhounds Australasia internal memo where Greyhounds Australasia and Greyhound Racing South Australia employees estimated that kill rate. Oops.
What it all means
AFGBOTA’s denial that anything is wrong and push back against contributing money to rehoming efforts is just more evidence of a sick culture within greyhound racing. It is a culture that is so accustomed to placing greyhound welfare last, that the people in it simply cannot see how socially unacceptable the status quo is. The people of Queensland are concerned about ensuring that every dog bred for racing has a forever home to call their own; if you listen to the AFGBOTA, they seem to be more concerned about meeting their TAB requirements. Welfare is almost an afterthought, and one that they would prefer somebody else pay for.
If you read Racing Queensland’s response to AFGBOTA’s hissy fit (second last paragraph in this article), they sound like they are ready to back down on the breeding registration fee increase if anyone in the industry whines enough. Sorry, ‘provides feedback’. Which would be a shame, because they’ve already proven they can’t get tough with live baiters (you know you’re a joke when your life ban gets watered down after the live baiter concerned whinges about how it would impact his social life) – if Racing Queensland can’t even get industry participants to contribute a paltry amount of money towards the welfare of the dogs they plan on breeding, they truly are impotent. You can’t regulate people you are scared of.
What you can do about it
If you live in Queensland, please email your State MP and CC firstname.lastname@example.org to copy in the Racing Minister Grace Grace. Tell your MP and the Racing Minister:
“As far as I am concerned, the greyhound racing industry has lost its social licence to operate in Queensland: self-regulation appears to have been equivalent to no regulation where animal welfare is concerned; the penalties imposed upon individuals guilty of live baiting have been watered down substantially upon appeal, so they offer little deterrent to others thinking about committing the same crimes in the future; and industry participants are pushing back against Racing Queensland’s attempts to make them contribute to the welfare of their own dogs (see the recent Gold Coast Bulletin article on the increase to greyhound breeding registration fees).
I believe greyhound racing has no place in modern Australian society and it needs to be shut down. However, as a closure of the industry will take time, I want to see some actual reform take place in the industry NOW to protect the animals currently in its care. I support the creation of an independent regulatory body for racing and I support greyhound racing participants taking responsibility for the welfare of their dogs though Racing Queensland’s proposed breeding registration fee increase. I trust that you, as my elected representative, will help make change in the racing industry happen.”
You can find contact details for every Queensland MP on this page.
You can also tell Racing Queensland that you support an increase to the breeding registration fees for the purposes of greyhound rehoming and welfare. The industry has historically failed to pull its weight when it comes to rehoming discarded greyhounds, and any efforts to lift its game are welcome. If you are as disappointed as we are in AFGBOTA’s response to their proposal, make sure you tell Racing Queensland that too. A welfare contribution of $950 per breeding female is not a lot when you consider that the person paying this probably intends to produce around 18 puppies, most of whom will eventually require rehoming.
Thank you for taking action for the greys! We need to keep speaking up for greyhound welfare – it’s the only way we can avoid voices like that of AFGBOTA being the only ones heard by the government and the regulators.
*Based on p.38 and p.46 in the MacSporran Report.
Update June 2016: Gone Are The Dogs has received information that Racing Queensland sent out an email to industry participants stating that the breeding fee increase would not be implemented in July 2016. Looks like Racing Queensland, when push comes to shove, is unable to stand up to the people it’s supposed to regulate.