As a result of the Four Corners program exposing the cruelty and corruption in the greyhound racing industry, the NSW government established the Special Commission of Inquiry into Greyhound Racing in NSW and following on from that Inquiry, the Greyhound Racing Review Panel.
NSW Inquiry and Review
One of the major welfare concerns identified by the Special Commission of Inquiry and the Greyhound Racing Review Panel was ‘wastage’. Wastage is the industry term for the killing of healthy dogs who are no longer profitable. The Special Commission established that the major contributor to wastage was overbreeding and shortfalls in re-homing. The greyhound racing industry business model presently depends on killing those dogs who are no longer profitable. As a result of the Inquiry and the Review, new legislation – the Greyhound Racing Act 2017, was passed by the Parliament and the new regulation was adopted. Additionally, Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) was established as the commercial operator and the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission (GWIC) was established as an independent body.
GWIC GREYHOUND RE-HOMING POLICY
The GWIC greyhound re-homing policy is issued under section 12 (b) of the Greyhound Racing Act 2017 and is enforceable by the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission. The details of this policy are quoted from the GWIC website and are as follows:
The objectives of this Policy are to:
- Maximise opportunities for re-homing greyhounds that are retired from, or otherwise
unsuitable for, racing
- Eliminate, wherever possible, unnecessary euthanasia of greyhounds
- Ensure that, where it is necessary to euthanase a greyhound, euthanasia is conducted in a humane manner
Where a greyhound owner is not able to retain a greyhound which is no longer suitable for racing, the greyhound owner is responsible for its re-homing.
A greyhound owner must make genuine and reasonable attempts to re-home a greyhound before:
- Euthanasia may be considered
- Placing the greyhound with a charitable organisation as defined in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979, a council pound within the meaning of the Companion Animals Act 1998, or a similar facility.
In order to meet re-homing requirements, at a minimum greyhound owners must do at least two of the following:
- Seek the greyhound’s admission to the Greyhounds As Pets program managed by GRNSW;
- Seek to re-home the greyhound through at least one other pet rescue or re-homing organisation; and
- Seek to re-home the greyhound privately, through at least two other unrelated parties, or seek the greyhound’s admission to the Greyhounds As Pets program a second time.
Re-homing of greyhounds in NSW occurs through the industry funded Greyhounds as Pets (GAP) program and private re-homing providers which are funded by private donation.
GRNSW Annual Reports show the following re-homing figures
Greyhounds as Pets
The number of greyhounds rehomed by the GAP program are:
Private Re-homing Providers
In addition to the GAP program, there are several independent greyhound re-homing organisations in NSW and, along with owners and trainers, these groups play an active and major role in the re-homing of greyhounds. In 2017/18, there were 1,395 greyhounds reported as having been rehomed by independent re-homing organisations, owners or trainers. This is over three times the number of greyhounds re-homed by the industry funded GAP.
GRNSW Annual report 2018 Re-homing Target
In October 2018, GRNSW finalised its Strategic Plan 2018-2021, which included as a key measure re-homing 1,000 greyhounds per year within the next 3 years through GAP and 1,500 through other re-homing providers. Pursuant to its Operating Licence, GRNSW is required to report against this target as part of its 2018/19 Annual Report.
RE-HOMING ASSISTANCE SCHEMES
(This section is quoted directly from the GRNSW website)
GRNSW recently launched the GRNSW Re-homing Contribution Scheme, the Greyhound Re-homing Grant Scheme and the Owners’ Incentive Scheme. The descriptions of the schemes shown below are extracted from the GRNSW website.
Re-homing Contribution Scheme
The Re-homing Contribution Scheme aims to assist independent greyhound re-homing organisations. Under the scheme, GRNSW will contribute $350 to the veterinary costs of every re-homed greyhound that acquires Greenhounds status at any point in its life. (Bolding by CPG).
The scheme will apply to greyhounds re-homed since 1 July 2015 and the payment will be made to the re-homing provider’s nominated veterinary account. GRNSW recognises the tireless work independent re-homing organisations undertake to secure a successful retirement for large numbers of racing greyhounds and bear significant costs in doing so.
The intent of the GRNSW Re-homing Contribution Scheme is to assist these re-homing organisations and help them continue to undertake the tremendous work they currently do.
To claim a contribution, an application for each eligible greyhound must be submitted by completing the Application for GRNSW Greyhound Re-homing Contribution Scheme.
Re-homing Grant Scheme
The Greyhound Re-homing Grant Scheme aims to support the tremendous work independent re-homing organisations do to find new homes for retired greyhounds.
Under the scheme, eligible organisations have the opportunity to apply for up to $10 000 towards the cost of an item or service that directly benefits their re-homing activities. Grants will be assessed and awarded tri-annually at the end of February, June and October. (Bolding by CPG)
Examples of items which are potentially eligible for a grant contribution under the scheme include dog trailers, a veterinary account as well as kennel renovations and/or extensions.
The introduction of the Greyhound Re-homing Grant Scheme is in addition to the GRNSW Re-homing Contribution Scheme, which was introduced in 2015.
Owners Incentive Scheme
Owners of greyhounds registered with the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission (GWIC) in NSW are being encouraged to take advantage of the new arrangements for re-homing retired greyhounds through the Owners’ Incentive Scheme.
Funding and administration of the scheme is provided through the Greyhounds as Pets (GAP) program. The aim of the scheme is to support participants who would like to keep their greyhounds as pets or rehome them to family or friends once their racing careers are over. The scheme provides funding for the greyhound to have a veterinary check, be desexed and have any minor dental work carried out. (Bolding by CPG).
Under the new arrangements for the scheme, owners registered with GWIC who retire a greyhound and intend to keep their greyhound as a pet or rehome the greyhound to family or friends, can apply to have their greyhound entered into the scheme. (Bolding by CPG).
Key changes from the earlier version of the scheme are as follows:
- participants will no longer be required to pay $50 to enter their greyhound into the scheme,
- the greyhound will no longer be required to have a behavioural assessment at a GAP facility or by a GAP staff member,
- the veterinary examination, desexing procedure and a dental care procedure (if required) can now be undertaken at your choice of veterinary surgery or hospital anywhere in NSW.
The GAP contributions in support of the scheme are capped as follows:
- Vet check and desexing (including all fees and expenses) – $450
- Dental care procedures (including all fees and expenses) – $200
If there are surgical complications (eg a cryptorchid male) or the dental work required is more serious and requires extractions payment beyond the cap may be possible with the prior approval of the GRNSW Chief Veterinarian.
There are two options for payment to be made under the scheme. The veterinarian performing the procedures can invoice GAP directly or the owner of the greyhound can pay the veterinarian and claim a reimbursement from GRNSW. The scheme application form provides for both options. (Bolding by CPG).
PROBLEMS WITH GRNSW ASSISTANCE SCHEMES
The problems with the NSWGR Assistance Schemes are; eligibility, funding amount and morality.
The Re-homing Contribution Scheme only applies to those greyhounds that attain Greenhound status. Many greyhounds will not attain this status so this scheme will not assist those dogs. The Owners’ Incentive Scheme only applies to industry participants who would like to keep their greyhounds as pets or rehome them to family or friends. It is not equitable that the industry GAP is fully funded by the commercial operator while the private re-homing providers, who re-home three times as many dogs, depend upon private donation.
The amounts available are limited to veterinary costs and the cost of an item or service that directly benefits their re-homing activities. The amounts available are not adequate to meet all veterinary costs. The schemes completely ignore all other cost associated with the day to day running of a greyhound rescue.
Many private rescue providers regard the greyhound racing industry as corrupt, cruel and based on a business model that involves the killing of dogs who are no longer profitable. For these reasons, the vast majority of independent rescue groups find accepting money from the industry to be against their moral code.
A JUST ASSISTANCE SCHEME
A just and acceptable assistance scheme must eliminate the problems identified with the current scheme. A just scheme must be based on the following criteria.
All private re-homing providers and all greyhounds, regardless of Greenhound status, must be covered by the scheme.
All veterinary costs, regardless of the amount, must be covered. In addition, the day-to-day cost of operating the rescue facility must be included. The day-to-day operations must also include the cost of a salary for full-time workers.
The money provided to the private re-homing groups cannot be tainted by cruelty and corruption. To ensure this occurs the money must be provided by the GWIC. The Greyhound Racing Act 2017, Part 3 Division 2, Clause 24, sub clause 1f allows the GWIC to recoup its costs from GRNSW. Under this system private re-homing providers will be funded by the GWIC, which in turn will recoup its costs from GRNSW. This arrangement allows the private re-homing providers to be at arms-length from the industry’s commercial operator.
Current GWIC policy requires racing industry owners to re-home their greyhounds before euthanasia may be considered or the greyhound must be placed with a charitable organisation. The policy requires, at a minimum, greyhound owners to do at least two of the following:
- Seek the greyhound’s admission to the GAP program managed by Greyhound NSW
- Seek to re-home the greyhound through at least one other pet rescue or re-homing
- Seek to re-home the greyhound privately, through at least two other unrelated parties, or
seek the greyhound’s admission to the GAP program a second time.
The historical ratio of private re-homing is approximately 3 to 1 when compared to GAP. The GRNSW re-homing target acknowledges that private re-homing providers will continue to re-home more dogs than GAP.
The GAP program is fully funded by the industry commercial operator whereas the private re-homing providers are funded by public donation. This is not equitable.
The GRNSW assistance schemes have very limited eligibility, provide inadequate amounts for veterinary treatment and nothing for day-to-day operations. In addition, many private re-homing providers will not accept industry money.
A just scheme providing GWIC funds for all private re-homing providers and all greyhounds, without limit on veterinary costs and including the cost of day to day operations is necessary.
- All private re-homing providers must be funded by GWIC.
- This funding must cover all veterinary costs and the costs of day-to-day operations of the rescue organisation, including staff salaries.
- GWIC must recoup these costs from the industry commercial operator.