Greyhound deaths occurring at rate seen before NSW repealed ban
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Unnecessary greyhound deaths are still occurring at levels seen before
New South Wales repealed its industry ban, internal figures reveal.
Details of greyhound deaths in NSW, obtained through freedom of information laws, suggest the industry is making little progress on its August 2016 guarantee that “no greyhound will be unnecessarily euthanised”.
The promise was one of a series of industry pledges designed to save NSW greyhound racing, following a damning inquiry and explosive revelations of live baiting and misconduct on ABC’s Four Corners.
Two months later, the then premier, Mike Baird, announced his backflip and the ban was formally repealed in April last year.
But data obtained by the Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi suggests unnecessary euthanasia has continued largely unabated.
About 330 greyhounds were euthanised because they were “unsuitable for rehoming” between April last year, when the ban was formally repealed, and 31 December.
That’s a rate of about 1.3 deaths per day, which is slightly higher than the 1.1 per day in the 12 months prior.
Another 296 greyhounds were euthanised due to injury, a rate that was again similar to the previous 12 months.
In total, Faruqi said, 707 greyhounds have died unnecessarily in the eight months since the repeal, a rate of 2.68 dogs a day. The rate for the 12 months before the ban’s repeal was three dogs per day.
Just last week, NSW stewards launched an investigation into the circumstances of a euthanisation at a regional racetrack earlier in January.
A greyhound had collided with several other dogs during a race and was found to have breached racing rules by “failing to pursue”. It was suspended from racing for 28 days. The greyhound was then euthanised by the officiating veterinarian.
But official stewards reports from the race suggest the dog was checked and “no apparent injury was detected”. The stewards reports also record the related euthanasias for the race as “nil”.
Faruqi said the industry could not exist without the future deaths of thousands of dogs.
“More than one greyhound is put down every day because they are considered ‘not suitable for rehoming’,” she said.
“It’s telling how a greyhound is wanted while it makes them money but, once they are retired and not profitable, they become unsuitable and are killed. The industry should care for and rehabilitate these dogs, not just kill them because they are inconvenient.”
She said the figures likely masked the true extent of the problem. There is little tracking of what happens to dogs that are transferred to third parties and Faruqi said there was nothing stopping an owner keeping the euthanasia from authorities by filling out adoption paperwork and having it put down a short time later.
Greyhound Racing NSW, the governing body, accepted the unlawful euthanasia of underperforming greyhounds had been a “scourge” on the industry for decades.
The problem, it said, was not one that could be fixed overnight and required a fundamental cultural shift within the industry.
In a statement, Greyhound Racing NSW said it was “not the same organisation it was 18 months ago” but was still in the early stages of its reforms.
The organisation had undergone a period of “significant organisational change” since the ban was announced and then overturned in 2016, the statement said.
A new board was elected in June last year and a new leadership team of chief executive officer Tony Mestrov and deputy CEO Dayle Brown was only appointed in October.
“All of these changes mean that while GRNSW is now in an organisation with strong leadership and in a position to implement real change, it has just come out of a significant period of transformation and these senior appointments have only held their positions for a few short months,” its statement said.
“GRNSW recognises the magnitude of the problem and submits whatever its past failings, it is committed to strategic reform and is leading fundamental transformation of the industry,” the organisation said.
“Over the past few years GRNSW has been investigating, developing and implementing a range of measures to substantially reduce the level of greyhounds unnecessarily euthanased to translate into meaningful change in the long term and at every stage of the greyhound lifecycle.”
It said it would achieve reductions in euthanasia rates through education, better funding for the greyhound adoption program and more effective regulation.
“The unlawful euthanasia of underperforming greyhounds has been a scourge on the industry for decades and it won’t change overnight,” the organisation said.
“GRNSW’s immediate objective is to reduce all unnecessary euthanasia to the lowest possible levels and to ensure that once all other avenues are exhausted, and when it is necessary to euthanase a greyhound that is unsuitable for rehoming, it is done so in a humane manner.”
Source: The Guardian
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