Politics

Now Is The Perfect Time To End Greyhound Racing In Australia

With large-scale entertainment gatherings discouraged due to COVID-19, now is the perfect time to shut down the brutal and cruel greyhound racing industry.

greyhound racing australia

One of the most baffling decisions to come out of Melbourne’s move into stage 4 lockdown, was the discovery that horse and greyhound racing would continue in the state, and was therefore not classified as “non-essential” — a move which has further outraged animal rights advocates.

Premier Daniel Andrews said at a press conference that horse and greyhound racing would be allowed to continue because it was a “very-low risk activity”.

“There are some significant animal welfare issues if you were to try to turn that industry off and take those animals out of training — there are some very significant animal welfare challenges there. So it’s a compromise,” he said.

Andrews’ comments drew immediate concern from some, who interpreted them as a reference to animals being “culled” if they were not useful to the sport.

A representative from the premier’s office denied that this was a concern to Junkee — however, considering the long, cruel, and sordid history of the greyhound racing industry in particular, concerns are certainly warranted.

Not only is it unnecessary to continue greyhound racing during a lockdown — we have to wonder if this is the perfect time to shut down the barbaric industry for good.

“Overwhelming Evidence Of Systemic Animal Cruelty”

The inherent brutality of greyhound racing in Australia has been highly publicised over the last five years — and the animal cruelty involved in the sport must be considered a fact, and not a supposition.

After a shocking Four Corners report in 2015, an official government inquiry found “overwhelming evidence of systemic animal cruelty, including mass greyhound killings and live baiting”. This led to greyhound racing being banned in the ACT, and briefly banned in NSW, before pushback from Nationals MPs and conservative commentators forced a backflip.

Since then, advocates have continually lobbied to have the industry shut down, while the government has funnelled millions of dollars into industry “reforms” — of which there has been no real evidence shown to have reduced animal cruelty or greyhound deaths to a satisfactory degree.

You only need to look at more recent stories, such as greyhound trainer Peter Parr who was charged after operating on a greyhound without anaesthetic or surgical training, causing horrifying injuries and distress to the animal. Or the horrifying practice of draining greyhounds of their valuable blood, before euthanising them.

“Animal cruelty is not an essential service. It’s baffling and incredibly frustrating that Victoria would continue greyhound racing when everything else has shut down,” said Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi to Junkee.

“So far this year, more than 120 dogs have needlessly died on tracks and there have been more than 5,000 injuries across Australia. That’s just the tip of the iceberg — there is no tracing of dogs that die off track.”

Pro-Greyhound Racing advocates seem to rely on three arguments to justify the continuation of the industry. The first being a complete refutation of the clearly identified facts of greyhound deaths, injuries, and widespread trainer cruelty. These stats, found by government bodies and independent investigations, are damning.

“Across Australia, greyhounds continue to die on racing tracks and put down when they no longer turn a profit. They are drugged, and their treatable injuries turned into death sentences,” continues Senator Faruqi.

The second argument from pro-racing groups tend to centre on an idea that greyhounds are “bred” for racing, and therefore should be provided the opportunity to do what they were “designed” for.

This is vaguely true — greyhounds are mass-bred, to feed the needs of an unnecessary gambling industry. It creates a “wastage” of extra dogs, and a eugenically motivated breeding industry, always seeking more and faster puppies, with thousands more dogs bred than are “necessary” for racing.

Data from the past 10 years shows that on average 5,700 greyhounds are bred each year in NSW, and only about 2,000 are adopted to families after retiring. Breeding puppies for a racing industry is no kindness to the dogs, and has no inherent worth — beyond what money it makes the people behind the industry.

“The evidence is clear. The dog racing industry is inherently cruel and cannot exist without the continued deaths of thousands of greyhounds. The Special Commission of Inquiry, that led to a short-lived commitment to banning racing in NSW in 2016, showed us this,” points out Senator Faruqi.

Stop Dog Racing Australia agrees with the sentiment, telling Junkee:

“There is nothing essential about an industry who just last week had to suspend a trainer who failed to provide care to an injured greyhound for five days, leading to this animal finally dying of heart failure after much suffering. There is nothing essential about this industry at all.”

Ban Greyhound Racing

I will always stand against the cruel greyhound racing industry that has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of dogs.Vote for me at this election to keep a Voice for Animals in the Senate and join the campaign -> voiceforanimals.org.au/greyhounds

Posted by Senator Mehreen Faruqi on Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Let’s Shut Down Greyhound Racing

But the argument against shutting down the greyhound industry that seems to hold the most weight, lies in the consequences of said shutdown.

Because the industry relies on a bloated amount of easily disposable dogs to race, shutting down racing would leave a large amount of greyhounds with nowhere to go — and without racing to motivate what little care they receive already, it’s unlikely that current trainers and breeders would be motivated to keep them.

Since NSW’s brief ban and backflip, mass-graves of greyhounds have continued to be discovered in the state.

Along with the large amount of dogs with nowhere to go, it’s also worth remembering how large the industry is, and how many jobs would be lost as a result.

When asked, Dennis Anderson, national president, Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds (CPG), agrees that it would be difficult to shut down the greyhound racing industry immediately.

“In the ideal world, greyhound racing would stop tomorrow and these beautiful dogs would be able to live as all other pet dogs in Australia…  The only way to stop greyhound suffering is to ban racing. We realise, however, that greyhound racing won’t be dismantled overnight. That’s why we advocate racing improvements such as straight tracks and six-dog races that have been proven to reduce deaths and injuries — but the industry has been slow to respond.”

He explains that the CPG advocates a dismantling plan that keeps in mind the problems already discussed.

“This needs to be done in a graduated way so that those with jobs in the industry are given re-training and other options, like working in greyhound sanctuaries. Just as when Australia moved out of textiles and auto manufacture decades ago, there needs to be a joint government and industry plan for change.”

“Banning Greyhound Racing Is A Growing Global Movement”

With large-scale entertainment gatherings paused and discouraged around Australia due to COVID-19, it seems like now is the perfect time to work towards shutting down the greyhound industry.

There’s never going to be an easy time to do this — the industry relies on the difficulty of dismantling its apparatus as one of the key ways to continue operations with little outcry. Combine that with the mammoth resources of the gambling industry backing it, it’s seems like a herculean task.

So, in a moment of renewed scrutiny, when crowds aren’t even allowed to gather — why not make it this moment? Big societal change always takes a moment of great courage and risk by advocates. It’s not going to just slide through. The racing and gambling industry isn’t going to simply allow it to happen one day — we have to push and advocate.

“But the gambling industry is wealthy and powerful and exerts its influence in politics and the media,” explains Dennis Anderson to Junkee. “The failed attempt by Mike Baird in NSW to ban greyhound racing highlighted the influence of the industry among numerous politicians and the conservative media.”

But big social changes like this require bravery, and seizing upon a moment. It makes sense, more than ever, to do it now.

“COVID-19 has exposed many cracks in our systems and provided an opportunity to forge a different path. The Victorian government could take this opportunity to lead the way and end greyhound racing once and for all, instead of propping it up,” recommend Senator Faruqi.

The first way to begin this process of shutting down the industry is lobbying politicians, and making sure the issue becomes part of their agenda. Write to or visit your local MP, your state premier or state racing minister and ask them to consider banning greyhound racing. Vote for parties who have a proof of advocating for greyhounds.

Following the lead of advocacy groups like the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds,  Stop Dog Racing Australia, or the RSPCA can also help, including donating or raising funds. The CPG tells us they have had success lobbying major businesses to remove their sponsorship of greyhound racing, with organisations like Toyota Australia, Volkswagen Australia, and Optus removing their support after learning of the community sentiment against racing.

“Banning greyhound racing is a growing global movement,” finishes Senator Faruqi. “More and more people recognise the cruelty of greyhound racing.  It’s Australian politicians who are increasingly out of touch. We must hold them to account and send a loud and clear message that we will accept nothing less than an end to greyhound racing.

These dogs deserve much better.”


Patrick Lenton is the Editor of Junkee. He tweets @patricklenton.