Premier Mike Baird and Racing Minister Troy Grant have made the courageous decision to ban greyhound racing in New South Wales, but unfortunately some ill-informed MPs and Labor opposition leader Luke Foley think racing should be allowed to continue. Please help help the greyhounds by contacting them and asking these questions!
Here is an email template that you can copy, paste and customise to send to MPs and other politicians who oppose the ban. We have another email template for MPs who support the ban here.
Dear (MP’s Name),
Extensive issues were brought up by the inquiry which led to the decision to ban greyhound racing – if you succeed in reversing the decision to ban greyhound racing, how do you plan to address the following issues?
- Too many dogs bred, not enough homes for them to go to. Please talk to some rehoming groups about the sheer volume of dogs being offloaded by the industry and how impossible it is to rehome the dogs as fast as they are discarded. Greyhounds are bred in the thousands every year and they are rehomed in the hundreds only – what is your plan to change this, bearing in mind that the industry breeds dogs to meet race meet requirements and not in sync with the demand for greys as pets? GRNSW’s own submission shows that even after it attempted to reduce breeding, NSW still produced 1,590 puppies in 4 months (Jan – Apr 2016). And yet the industry adoption program has rehomed just 593 greyhounds since 2007.
Industry participants are claiming that the ban must be overturned for the sake of the dogs and that every racing greyhound is going to be killed if the ban takes place (please note that the same industry participants will be doing the killing themselves, as there is nothing in the ban to stop them from keeping their dogs as pets). Every single dog in the industry today will need a home anyway in the next year or two even if racing continues; but in that year or two, even more dogs will be bred to replace them as racing product.
Keeping racing going will kill more dogs than implementing a ban in 2017. Banning greyhound racing, on the other hand, will immediately end the perpetual overbreeding of greyhounds and save thousands of lives in the long term.
- Greyhound racing does nothing to ensure the dogs being bred are properly socialised and trained so that they are easy to rehome – will every racing industry participant socialise and train each and every one of their greyhounds (including the ones who are not suitable for racing) to the standard that we would expect from pet owners who’ve bought a puppy, including things like puppy school, familiarising the dogs with living in a house (not in kennels), ensuring they are exposed to crowds, other kinds of dogs, other domestic animals like cats, etc.? At the moment these dogs come out of racing and require extensive rehabilitation and retraining for life as a pet, which causes a bottleneck in rehoming and therefore wastage. Will racing participants be willing to pay for the extra staff required to do this? Or will taxpayer money be diverted to ‘subsidise’ the cost of racing participants being responsible dog owners?
NSW’s largest breeder Paul Wheeler has declared that he has 500 dogs on his property and just 13 employees to care for them – that’s roughly 38 greyhounds per employee. If we assume each employee works a full-time 40 hours per week, each dog on Mr Wheeler’s property can look forward to roughly one hour of one-on-one time with a human per week. Mr Wheeler claims his turnover last year was $7 million – if one hour a week is all he can give his greyhounds, how do poorer participants’ dogs fare?
- Will greyhound racing participants be required by law to continue sheltering, feeding and caring for their dogs until they can be safely rehomed? At the moment every greyhound rescue has received calls from loving trainers/owners who say “Take this dog now or I’ll put it down” or “Need this dog gone now to make room for a new dog”. There is nothing compelling them to take responsibility for the greyhounds they have bred until room is available with a rescue group; meanwhile rescue groups have waiting lists that are months-long because dogs are discarded faster than homes can be found.
The industry-run GAP program is no exception to this. Their website says: “We can only take a limited number of dogs into foster care at any one time and are unable to take dogs in at short notice.” “We encourage owners/trainers to put their greyhound onto the waiting list well before the dog retires…at least six months before your dog finishes racing.”
The industry is currently based on planned abandonment of dogs – if these were not racing greyhounds but any other breed of dog, this industry would be regarded as nothing more than a giant puppy mill (coincidentally, something that NSW Labor claims to oppose).
- How are you going to ensure that animal cruelty is eliminated from greyhound racing? The industry has proven time and again that it is unable to wipe out animal cruelty, partly due to corruption (such as stewards misreporting injuries and deaths) and partly due to not having the resources to police so many properties on a regular, ongoing basis. Will the industry still be economically viable if you implement a vigorous oversight program that includes frequent unannounced kennel inspections, more time to vet the dogs before and after races, banning the dangerous practice of unsupervised, lengthy barking muzzle usage, and so on? Are you planning to use taxpayer money to fund the oversight program if the industry cannot fund it?
- How are you going to get around the fact that the industry uses these dogs as racing product until their bodies break? Greyhounds only retire for two reasons: they are not good enough to win and make money, or they get injured and cannot make money anymore. Analysis of GRNSW’s own data found that 1 dog dies every 2 days on a NSW track and every racing greyhound has a 50% chance of injury in its ‘career’. A vet testified during the inquiry to say that the repetitive strain of racing in a circle means every dog’s legs eventually give way and result in career or life-ending injuries.
These risks to greyhounds will not end as long as they are being raced, no matter what other welfare measures you implement.
- The racing industry in NSW has had since at least 2014, when the last inquiry was held, to change its culture and improve greyhound welfare. What makes you think this time will be any different once the media spotlight fades away? These are quotes from Paul Newson, the interim CEO of GRNSW, who described industry participants as having little motive to change:
“…we often had to deal with the outright denial of the significant animal welfare issues in the industry.”
“On many occasions proposed reforms were dismissed and resisted by industry participants…”
“I had difficulty convincing some industry participants about the need for change.”
One of the other 79 recommendations made by the McHugh inquiry is that barking muzzles must be banned entirely; here is a photo of a barking muzzle if you haven’t seen one before. (Please save this and attach it to your email.) Earlier this year, GRNSW banned barking muzzles at race tracks only in response to evidence given to the McHugh inquiry – please find attached a screenshot of participants’ reactions to this relatively minor welfare initiative. I think it gives you an idea of what the industry culture is like. (Please save this jpg and attach it to your email.)
I also find it incredibly distasteful that industry participants are claiming that all the greyhounds in their care will be killed for financial reasons, while at the same time they are saying they are ‘cashed up’ with ‘tens of millions of dollars’ to fight the ban – this only further proves that greyhound racing participants do not view the dogs as living creatures that they need to take responsibility for, but only as racing product to be discarded if racing is banned.
I hope you will take the time to respond to these concerns. Thank you.
The following is a list of politicians who oppose the ban on greyhound racing that you can email (thanks Greyhound Equality Society):
*** Australian Labor Party ***
*** Nationals ***
*** Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party ***
*** Christian Democratic Party ***
And if you are feeling extra motivated, you can contact Barnaby Joyce too – he hasn’t read the report and knows nothing about greyhound racing outside the acquaintance of a handful of industry participants, and on this basis of ignorance opposes the ban.
Thanks for helping the greyhounds!