For the record – the NSW Government’s failure to protect ‘retired’ greyhounds.

CPG’s view is that the NSW greyhound regulator the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission (GWIC) is unable to protect greyhounds when they are ‘retired’ from racing and transferred to a third party outside the industry.

This situation is not GWIC’s fault. Regulators can only do what they are empowered to do. It is the responsibility of the relevant NSW Minister, currently Kevin Anderson, and the NSW State Government.

In 2017, the NSW Government promised to give GWIC the power to track each greyhound for the whole of its life but has failed to do so.[1]

As a result, greyhounds are still ‘disappearing’ in their thousands.[2]

On 22 February 2020, ABC Sydney online published an article looking at what prevents GWIC from keeping tabs on retired dogs.[3] The article quoted CPG President Dennis Anderson as saying this will pave the way to more mass killings.

GWIC CEO Judy Lind responded to CPG’s position in a news release which was published in the Greyhound Recorder on 24 February 2020.[4]

CPG response to GWIC comments

GWIC assertion: Greyhounds that are retired to non-industry participants are under the protection of local council rangers, the RSPCA and Animal Welfare League (AWL) officers.

CPG facts: RSPCA and AWL don’t have the resources to protect the thousands of greyhounds transferred to third parties.

In 2018-19, the RSPCA NSW received 15,673 reports of animal cruelty yet only 77 prosecutions were started – a prosecution rate of less than one percent.[5]

The RSPCA is hamstrung by its legal vulnerability in court and potential for costs, so is reluctant to prosecute for fear of failure.

This is not the RSPCA’s fault, rather it’s a charity which must be careful with its limited funds. The question to ask is not why the RSPCA doesn’t do more to protect animals. Instead, as a society we should be asking ourselves why we expect a charity to do this work. We don’t expect a charity to protect children or the aged, we expect government to do it and it should be the same for animals.


GWIC: The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 [POCTAA] applies to take action against any member of the community who engages in acts of cruelty in relation to their retired greyhounds.

CPG: See comments re RSPCA above; also our view is that neither RSPCA, DPI or the Department of Agriculture enforce POCTAA adequately to intercept or prevent cruelty in the system.


GWIC: “… the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds seems to believe that greyhounds who are retired as pets to animal loving members of the community are at risk of being abused or killed.”

CPG: Inaccurate. Pet greyhounds are a small percentage of ‘retired’ greyhounds, while the rest ‘disappear’.[6]

CPG estimates about 4000 greyhounds were unaccounted-for in 2017/18 and a similar amount in 2018/19.


GWIC: In relation to the question, ‘where do the rest go’ (referring to the suggested gap between number of greyhounds bred and numbers re-homed), many greyhounds, once retired, remain with their owners or trainers and happily live out the term of their natural lives.

CPG: Inaccurate. There is no evidence that this occurs. Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) does not publish this data.


GWIC: In late 2019, GWIC conducted a program as part of its ongoing tracking of registered greyhounds to identify if an inordinate number of greyhounds were being re-homed to the same person or to fictitious people.

“Our programs have revealed that there is no evidence of systemic disappearance of greyhounds as a result of being re-homed to private individuals”, Ms Lind said.

CPG: If this is the case, why isn’t this information made public? Also, this applies since GWIC began watching the industry. What about the thousands of dogs before that? Consider:

  • About 3500 greyhounds were whelped last financial year but there aren’t 3500 people in NSW able to adopt a greyhound.
  • Of the 4415 greyhounds born in 2015/16, and 3056 in 2016/17, more than 1000 dogs each year should have been adopted.
  • Added to this should be the greyhounds that were retired. Assuming they were retired after four years, CPG believes about 4000 dogs should have been retired, bringing the total number of greyhounds available for adoption in 2017/18 to 5810 dogs, and 5605 in 2018/19.
  • Yet only 1810 were re-homed in 2017/18 by Greyhound Adoption Program NSW and other private re-homers, according to the GRNSW 2018 Annual Report.

This leaves 4000 unaccounted for in 2017/18 alone. Where are they?


GWIC:  The Commission will also be facilitating the registration of industry greyhounds, being retired to non-industry owners, onto the NSW Pet Registry.

CPG: This is a positive step but when will it happen? Can GWIC provide a timeframe?


GWIC: Greyhounds re-homed by GRNSW are placed onto the NSW Companion of Animals Register operated by the NSW Office of Local Government and all new owners are obliged to ensure their details are placed on the NSW Pet Registry so that Local Council and RSPCA inspectors are able to check on their welfare.

CPG: Has GWIC ever run a check on this? If so, where is the report?

Note

  • The NSW Pet Registry is a database of microchipped and registered cats and dogs that live in NSW.[7] The registry enables lost pets to be reunited with their owners.
  • NSW Companion of Animals Register is the website for animals registered under the NSW Companion Animals Act 1998. Under this Act, cats and dogs are required to be microchipped and lifetime registered.

GWIC: The Commission will pursue any participant who knowingly re-homes their greyhound to a third party, knowing that party intends to euthanise the dog and/or any instance where a greyhound disappears or has been euthanised in breach of Commission policies. To date the Commission has not received any intelligence or complaint(s) that this is occurring. 

CPG: The NSW Government has thus created an impossibly high bar for the regulator to meet, i.e., how do they prove a participant did this “knowingly”?


[1] www.industry.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/102164/Response-to-greyhound-reform-panel.pdf

[2] www.news.com.au/technology/science/animals/anger-over-australias-disappeared-greyhounds/news-story/2cc5946b00ffdc2fdbfbaacfece2a437

[3] www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-22/greyhounds-still-disappearing-in-nsw-tracking-failing/11965030

[4] www.thegreyhoundrecorder.com.au/news/gwic-greyhounds-retired-outside-the-industry-still-protected-27178

[5] https://www.rspcansw.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/2018-2019_Year-in-Review_Online.pdf

[6] www.news.com.au/technology/science/animals/anger-over-australias-disappeared-greyhounds/news-story/2cc5946b00ffdc2fdbfbaacfece2a437

[7] www.petregistry.nsw.gov.au/#/aboutus

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