Speeches – Melbourne March for the Murdered Million: 24th July, 2016

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Dr Eleonora Gullone – Founder, Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds

We stand here today to commemorate the Murdered Million greyhounds who have been bred, used and discarded by the greyhound racing industry.

2015 revelations of an industry riddled with cruelty, criminality and corruption have been so damning that they marked the beginning of the end of greyhound racing in Australia.

Despicable as the live baiting crimes are, what has contributed most strongly to the celebrated demise of this cruel industry is the callous disregard for the lives of thousands upon thousands of young and healthy greyhounds.

This callous disregard for life is so greatly at odds with the relationship that Australians have with man’s best friend that the NSW Premier Mike Baird felt he had no option other than to announce the end of NSW greyhound racing.

In the last 12 years alone, almost a quarter of a million greyhound puppies have been whelped in Australia. Almost 100,000 of these were in NSW – the state with the largest greyhound racing industry in the country.

Coming a close second is Victoria in which an average of 6600 puppies have been born every year for the last 12 years – averaging to around 80,000.

Of these 6 and ½ thousand dogs only around 300 per year have been adopted through the Greyhound industry’s adoption program.

Over the entire 20 years that the program has been in existence, it has found homes for only 6,100 dogs, indicating that the Victorian greyhound racing industry produces more dogs per year than it has been able to rehome in 20.

In his 2015 Inquiry into the live baiting scandal, Sal Perna, Victoria’s Racing Integrity commissioner identified the killing of greyhounds as being of sufficient concern to warrant a thorough review.

Perna’s report stated that at least 4000 greyhounds are killed every year in Victoria before their fifth birthday – this for a dog with a 12 year life span.

Since January this year, 58 dogs were killed at the racetrack – that’s two dogs every week. A further 35 dogs were listed as having severe injuries totalling to 93 deaths or serious injuries on the racetrack in just 6 months.

Injuries included cardiac arrest, fatal head injuries, spinal injuries, pelvic injuries, and neck dislocation.

The youngest of these dogs was only 22 months old, and the oldest merely four and a half years – not even half of a greyhound’s natural lifespan.

The statistics indicate that the risk of serious injury or death on the racetrack is 4.36% for each and every race.

These dogs and tens of thousands more before them died without knowing the comfort of a home or the love of a family.

Today we mourn their deaths and gather to express our sadness that we were unable to save them and tens of thousands of their brothers and sisters who were killed before even being named because they did not run fast enough or because they would not chase.

We are here to pledge to the greyhounds who are still alive today and those yet to be born that we will keep fighting for them and that we will do all in our power to stop all greyhounds from being placed at risk of serious injury or death, purely for the sake of a bet.

We will keep fighting until every last greyhound is born to live the life of a dog and not a racing machine or a “product” for gambling and greed.

Thank you!

 

Glenys Oogjes, Executive Director, Animals Australia

Thank you Ron – I’m thrilled to see so many people here – and welcome particularly to your canine friends.  They, and we, are the fortunate ones – our lives are enriched through their gentle giving natures. This is a two way relationship that we cherish.

Sadly there are others in our community – those in the greyhound industry – that see them differently.

They see their dogs as just cogs in the racing industry machine, a moving part that will only be useful if and whilst they win races and bring kudos to their owners or trainers.

As we had all known for years – live baiting of greyhounds using small animals was an endemic and a dirty open secret of this industry.

Through Animals Australia’s undercover investigators (and with Animal Liberation Qld colleagues) we were finally able to shine a light onto the dark cruelty of live baiting.

That vision and the community outrage after seeing 4Corners began a chain reaction – with Government enquiries in most States over the past 18 months – and so the other issues have also been laid bare –

  • the terrible housing methods which produce fearful anxious unsocialised dogs,
  • barking muzzles to paper over the dreadful boredom and frustration of kennelled racing dogs,
  • the use of drugs to make them run faster,
  • Serious and painful injuries, often death, on the race track as they hurtle around oval tracks with others – and
  • sadly often then not even given proper veterinary attention – but treated by untrained ‘muscle men’ and crude wound treatment without pain relief.

And also then highlighting the largest endemic ethical issue facing the industry – what Justice McHugh – in his damning report on the NSW industry- called –

– , ‘the elephant in the room’ [This being…] the continuing slaughter of thousands of greyhounds for no other reason than they never had or no longer have any commercial usefulness.   (28.112)

Yes – sadly – once the feed bill exceeds the prize money – the majority of the dogs are discarded, and that means killed.

In Australia it is likely more than 15,000 greyhounds a year are killed despite the best efforts of rescue groups.

In Victoria the Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna has estimated at least 4,000 greyhounds are killed each year before their 5th birthday.

All this leads to the conclusion that this industry cannot be fixed, it must be shut down.

And we are on our way –

  • First we exposed the worst abuses, and these enquiries have exposed the rest,
  • Then we stopped the export of dogs to the cruel Canidrome in Macau, and
  • Now NSW Premier Baird and his Racing Minister Grant are moving to close greyhound racing in NSW by 1 July 2017.

Our job is clear – as advocates for the dogs – we must all do all we can in the next couple of weeks to support the ban in NSW.

Once that is done, we must regroup and bring an end to greyhound racing across the country.

Please be active in this battle because the time is right, and these opportunities are rare –we must grasp this opportunity for the dogs with both hands now.

 

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