Greyhound racing and gambling are intimately connected. This inevitably leads to over breeding and the killing of healthy dogs. The industry has also demonstrated a level of mendacity and cruelty that indicates it is beyond any form of regulation. It must be abolished, just like dog fighting and bear baiting.
Widespread and extreme animal cruelty is inherent in the greyhound racing industry. It includes illegal live baiting, doping and mistreatment and deliberate over-breeding that results in the annual killing of thousands of healthy greyhounds,. The industrys long failure to adequately address these issues or enforce existing laws (despite various reports and exposes), together with evidence of endemic corruption, demonstrates it cannot be trusted to self-regulate and reform.
The greyhound industry depends on wastage – the over-breeding of dogs to ensure that a proportion will run fast enough to be commercially useful. Young and healthy dogs not meeting this criteria are routinely killed or given away to science and export, with only a small proportion re-homed or adopted. Insufficient transparency and published data mean estimates vary but the numbers bred for the sport are huge and more than half are deliberately killed. In NSW, almost 100,000 greyhounds were bred in the last 12 years, with 50-70% killed. Thousands end up in pounds. Underperforming greyhounds have been found shot or bludgeoned to death. Animal welfare groups and veterinarians have expressed grave concern about the many dogs killed and the industrys failure to take responsibility for finding homes for dogs they breed.
Deliberate overbreeding has led to a market in research, teaching and live export. Many dogs who dont make it to the racetrack are routinely given away to medical or veterinary schools for teaching or experiments and then generally killed. Recent examples include experiments for cosmetic dental surgery, and one where dogs were suffocated and their hearts removed then transplanted. More than 100 dogs have been exported for racing every year to jurisdictions with no animal welfare laws including Macau, where they are subject to appalling living conditions, risk of serious injury and certain death (including being boiled alive for eating). Although banned in 2013, 179 trainers were charged in 2016 with exporting dogs to Macau.
In 2015 the ABCs Four Corners revealed that the horrendously cruel practice of live baiting (or blooding) remains endemic and rampant, despite being banned in 1979. Rabbits, piglets, possums are used as live bait to entice and train greyhounds across different states and by individuals at the highest levels in the industry. An estimated one in five trainers maintain it is necessary.
Other cruel practices prevail, including allegations and convictions of dogs being fed or injected with banned performance-enhancing drugs such including steroids and cocaine. Injuries are common the RSPCA estimates, based on industry figures, that more than 750 greyhounds are injured monthly during races with more during training, trialling and non-TAB races. Races can be held in hot temperatures despite real concerns about heat stress, stroke and death. Greyhound Racing Victoria acknowledges that heat stress affects canines more severely than humans and allows races up to 38 degrees Celsius, but in NSW trainers may withdraw greyhounds without penalty above this maximum. Many racing greyhounds are effectively kept in solitary confinement without access to stimulation or socialization.
Prior to the 2015 exposes the greyhound racing industry was self-regulated with very little accountability, transparency or responsibility for its actions regarding breeding, training, usage, injuries and discarding of greyhounds. Self-regulation has been shown to be an abject failure: live baiting and export have continued long after being banned, and information on deaths and injury have been sanitised.
States reactions to the 2015 ABC Four Corners live baiting expose varied. Relevant boards in NSW, Victoria and Queensland resigned or were stood down, inquiries established and new regulations introduced. Tasmanias parliamentary inquiry found no proof or live-baiting but made recommendations. WA and SA continue as before. State government incentive schemes are currently under revision. The NSW Parliament, voted in August 2016 to ban greyhound racing, following a special commission of inquiry that found overwhelming evidence of systemic animal cruelty and that the NSW industry has fundamental animal welfare issues, integrity and governance failings that cannot be remedied. Sadly, as a result of industry pressure, the Premier back-flipped on the issue.
Commercial greyhound racing is legal in only eight countries across the world and Australia is reportedly the third largest. An estimated 82 percent of Australians want a nation-wide ban.