On 14 October 2020, news.com.au published an article titled ‘More than 2300 missing greyhounds feared killed in NSW.’ This article quoted from a study by the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds titled ‘Disappeared Greyhounds FY 19/20’. The study found that 2,338 greyhounds born in NSW over the previous four years could not be accounted for. CPG considers that these greyhounds have disappeared.
In response the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission (GWIC) issued a statement rebutting the CPG figures. The GWIC statement was printed in full in the news.com.au article. CPG considers that the GWIC statement contains inaccuracies and misleading statements.
CPG supports the existence of an independent regulator and recognises that
GWIC is constrained by legislation, regulation and resources from achieving its full potential to ensure improvements to greyhound welfare. However, if GWIC is going to criticise their work, CPG asks that it uses accurate data.
The GWIC rebuttal is shown below in italics followed by the CPG response in a shaded box.
Full statement from the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission
“The Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds has made several incorrect assumptions relating to the number of greyhounds that ‘should have been adopted’ or are ‘missing’,” the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission said in a statement.
The Commission does not agree with the CPG that there are ‘2338 missing greyhounds’, with reasoning outlined below.“The numbers cited have not taken into account greyhounds that remain with their original owner, trainer or breeder, as is often the case. For example, in GWIC’s recent compliance check of greyhounds whelped between 1 July and 30 September 2018, 98.5 per cent were found to still be in the custody of a registered participant.“
CPG Response: The figures for greyhounds that remain with their original owner, trainer or breeder were included in the CPG study. These figures are taken from the GWIC quarterly reports for FY 2019/20 titled Retirement and End of Life and are reproduced below:
Greyhound retirements (adoption)
GWIC published numbers for greyhound retirements in FY19/20 are:
Retained by owner or trainer: 520
Rehomed privately by owner or trainer: 224
Accepted by Greyhounds as Pets (GAP): 148
Accepted by another animal rescue or adoption agency: 339
GWIC: “It is also claimed that 40 per cent of greyhounds whelped are considered unsuitable for racing. Prior to the establishment of the Commission, it was estimated that 30 per cent of greyhounds whelped may never race, however since the commencement of the Commission and the introduction of industry reform, breeding numbers have reduced significantly and we cannot assume that this figure continues to fit the situation of the past three years.”
CPG Response: The figure of 40% was taken from the report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in NSW Volume 1 Chapter 1 paragraph 1.5 dated 16 June 2016 and a Greyhounds Australasia briefing document signed by Scott Parker and Matthew Corby on 23 April 2015 which stated ‘7000 greyhounds a year do not make it to the track’ (40% of all greyhounds whelped). The NSW Government has not produced verifiable figures to prove that this well-established wastage rate has changed.
It is completely inaccurate to claim that breeding numbers have reduced since GWIC commenced operation. In fact, in FY16/17 breeding numbers halved following the government’s announcement that the industry would be banned.
In 2014, the IER report produced for the NSW Government showed 7,472 pups were born that year. Breeding numbers for the last four financial years according to figures published by GWIC are:
GWIC: “Greyhounds whelped in 2017/18 are nearing two years old, and many of them would have recently commenced their training for racing and have not yet competed in a race.
The Commission will closely monitor the data in the coming months and years to determine industry trends.
Similarly, just because a greyhound does not race in NSW does not mean they do not race at all. New South Wales is a well known exporter of young greyhounds to other states and jurisdictions in Australia.”
CPG Response: No figures are provided to support this assertion. If GWIC wishes to include greyhounds exported from NSW they must provide the figures.
GWIC: “The Commission has found that most greyhounds that do not race, or that are retired from racing, remain in the custody of their owners or trainers and therefore remain registered with the Commission. As a result, they are not included in rehoming statistics published by the Commission.
Evidence of this can be seen in the quarterly Retirement and End of Life reports on the Commission’s website. These greyhounds are still subject to Commission inspections and monitoring.“
CPG Response: The quarterly Retirement and End of Life reports on GWIC’s website, which are shown above, state that of 1,231 retirements (adoptions), only 520 are in the custody of their owners or trainers. This does not constitute ‘most greyhounds’.
GWIC: “The Commission continues to educate the industry on their reporting obligations under the Racing Rules. On many occasions, greyhounds that are no longer racing but remain with an industry participant as a pet have not yet been reported to the Commission as retired.
A large portion of 2020 has been spent validating the status of greyhounds in these situations.”
CPG Response: This is clear proof that industry participants cannot be relied upon. If after all this time and public money, industry participants are still failing to report the changed status of dogs in their care, how can any information they provide be regarded as reliable without third party verification?
GWIC: “The CPG provides no supporting evidence for their claim that 40 per cent of greyhounds whelped are ‘deemed unsuitable to race’ nor an explanation for where 2649 racers comes from. The Commission cannot validate this data.”
CPG Response: As already stated, the 40% figure comes from the report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in NSW and Greyhounds Australasia.
GWIC cannot validate this data because the records handed to GWIC by Greyhound Racing NSW were incomplete. This is shown by GWIC’s own statement that ‘A large portion of 2020 has been spent validating the status of greyhounds in these situations.’
This so-called validation process amounts to nothing more than GWIC asking industry participants to self-report. See sample letter here. This data going forward is no more reliable than unverified tax returns.