Isabella Davey, Year 12 (Editor in Chief).
What is Greyhound Racing?
Similar to horse racing, greyhound dogs are trained, bred and raced for the prospect of winning. This industry not only thrives upon the speed and strength of the dogs, but also the thrill of spectators and gamblers. The largest racing arenas are known as the Canidrome, the Australian greyhound racing industry is strong and not to mention cruel.
What is the Problem?
Well, the honest truth is that these animals are experiencing exploitation.
The main issue when NSW Premier Mike Baird announced a state-wide ban was live baiting which not only demonstrated cruelty against the canines, but the small animals lures as well. Often using rabbits, piglets or possums, these small defenseless animals are trapped in mechanical lures and flung across the track at high speeds. The dogs are provoked and encouraged to chase them in training so that during racing they run faster in the hopes of catching their prey. Eventually mauled and killed by the greyhounds, live baits suffer horrendous deaths at the expense of human entertainment. Nonetheless, these greyhounds have been bred and trained to act this way and in turn it is their trainers and owners who are mostly responsible for this treatment.
But the basic sport itself is still cruel and abhorrent, with around five dogs dying each week as a result of the industry, whether it be injury, starvation, during a race, or by their owners for their uselessness and inability to bring home any wins. The NSW Government’s special commission of inquiry was set up in response to the ABC Four Corners episode from 2015 (linked below) which documented the graphic reality of greyhound racing. The commission found evidence that 50% of dogs bred were deliberately killed due to their incompetence and lack of competitive ability, and 20% who complete races are injured. Greyhounds NSW, the chief greyhound racing organisation disputed these figures, and instead promote ‘safe’ rules and regulations (discussed below).
During my work experience at a semi-rural mixed veterinary practice earlier this year, a greyhound owner and racer brought in one of her dogs, a beautiful grey hair, which had some injuries requiring surgery. After being explained the procedures and the cost, the owner decided to put down the animal stating:
“She’s not winning, so she’s not worth it"
I think what startled me the most beside her blunt response, was the realisation that this happens every day in this industry. That healthy animals requiring attention and care are being neglected, and ultimately ending up in the freezer.
After further reading, I found out it wasn’t just the adults who were not fit for racing that were dying. Thousands of pups are deemed unlikely to win races and there therefore also culled.
Is it a Gambling Problem?
Yes. Australia has a gambling problem. Apart from having the second highest amount of poker machines in the world (after Las Vegas), nearly one million Australians regularly gambled on horse and dog racing in 2015. Race betting also made up 52% of total gambling expenditure, followed by lottery tickets (19%) and sports (10%). Furthermore, they were spending a large sum in the area of racing, with those suffering from ‘Sever problems (“problem gamblers”)’ spending thousands of their regular betting expenditure on racing, making up almost half of their total gambling activity expenses (see below graph; as researched in 2017 by Andrew Armstrong and Megan Carroll for the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Gambling Research Centre <https://aifs.gov.au/agrc/publications/race-betting-australia>). An estimated $4 billion is gambled on greyhound racing every year in Australia.
Greyhound Racing NSW
Through exploration of their website and reading various articles, Greyhound Racing NSW appears to be the central body for greyhound racing in the state. They outline under their Racing Policies some measures which they state are being executed to ensure better treatment of participating animals. So is it all bad? Or do policies such as ‘Race Day Hydration and Hot Weather Policy’, “designed to protect the health, comfort and safety of greyhounds during hot weather… to ensure that greyhounds are properly cared for during race day kennelling and in circumstances of hot weather conditions”, actually provide reasonable argument against that of animal activists and live footage.
Moreover, their article on the ‘Unauthorised Export of Greyhounds’ outlines fines and action they have taken against the live exportation of greyhounds for use in racing elsewhere, primarily Macau, mainland China and Dubai.
Surprisingly, they also released a ‘Lure Policy’ which discusses the change from the use of live lures or those made of “professionally processed animal skins” for those “made of purely synthetic materials only”. However, the lures do not have to be of a certain shape and may replicate that of prey animals.
So are they actually an organisation who cares for the welfare of their racing dogs? Or are they simply putting on this façade to blatantly disguise their true actions to those outside the racing world?
What Can YOU Do?
· Adopt a greyhound that has retired from racing (<https://www.gapnsw.com.au/>)
· Submit a Greyhound Welfare or Integrity Concern if you witness cruelty in the industry (<https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/submit-greyhound-welfare-or-integrity-concern>)
· Send messages to your Racing Minister via RSPCA (<https://www.rspca.org.au/campaigns/greyhound-racing/end-cruel-training-practices>)
· Visit this informative website and raise awareness (<http://greyhoundcruelty.com/>)
· Support the anti-greyhound racing billboard (<https://chuffed.org/project/help-ban-greyhound-racing>)
Issues Not Discussed
Some very serious issues that I have not discussed in this article include:
· Doping (<https://youtu.be/JwRGR1MtyW0>)
· Tax-payers money funding (<https://www.animalsaustralia.org/features/greyhound-racing-money-trail.php>)
· Those affected by a ban (the end of the following article by the ABC <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-20/greyhound-racing-ban-nsw-explained/7622052>)
· Breeder compensation (<https://www.westernadvocate.com.au/story/4185925/industry-insulted-by-dog-payouts/>)
ABC Four Corners Report: <http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/making-a-killing/6127124>
ABC News Article on Greyhound Gambling: <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-21/greyhound-live-baiting-scandal-no-deterrent-for-gen-y-gamblers/7103564>
Animal Liberation Queensland Brochure: <https://alq.org.au/sites/default/files/page_files/ALQ-Greyhound-Brochure-Web.pdf>
Animal Liberation Queensland Video: <https://youtu.be/Cz_nRDYfPU4>
The Sydney Morning Herald with a Greens Perspective: <https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/greyhound-racing-still-a-cruel-sport-20180413-p4z9j4.html>
Infographics sourced from the RSPCA and Animal Liberation Queensland.
Cover Image: ABC (<http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-23/coonamble-greyhound-club-racing-ban/8380990>)