Politics

People Are Furious That Horse And Greyhound Racing Is Considered ‘Essential’ In Victoria

"Surely these people would not kill a dog that can't make them money?"

greyhound racing

As Victoria moves to shut all non-essential businesses, animal welfare groups are incredulous that the state’s Stage 4 restrictions will not apply to greyhound and horse racing.

In yesterday’s press conference — where he announced a shutdown of all non-essential businesses — Premier Daniel Andrews said 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.

“I’m sure many in that industry will not be pleased that it’s been scaled back further. But we think we’ve struck the right balance there.”

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

This morning Junkee spoke to a representative from the premier’s office who denied that was a concern.

The spokesperson referred us to comments made by racing minister Martin Pakula on ABC radio this morning, who told Mornings presenter Virginia Trioli that racing has continued for the last six months with no positive COVID-19 cases.

“The other point is, and the premier made this point yesterday, there are animal welfare issues that people probably don’t contemplate,” he said.

“If you took every standardbred, every thoroughbred horse and every greyhound in the state and put them all out of work at once in an environment where owners can no longer afford to pay their training fees, trainers can no longer afford to feed the horses, every animal either needs to go back to agistment, go back to the paddock, go back to an owner and every dog has to do the same, that is an incredible burden on the animal welfare network in one go.”

Trioli then asked him whether the government was indicating that animals would have to be put down if the industry folded.

“I didn’t say that,” he said. “What I mean is you’ve basically got a situation where people, neither owners nor trainers — and many of whom would be under their own independent financial distress — are in an environment where the industry shuts down, bills stop being paid, everybody’s got to go back and it would be shutting it down for no good reason.”

Why Are People So Concerned About The Industry?

The greyhound racing industry first attracted national outrage after a 2015 Four Corners documentary exposed significant animal welfare issues at tracks in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.

It led to NSW ordering an inquiry which found “overwhelming evidence of systemic animal cruelty, including mass greyhound killings and live baiting”. They also found evidence that at least 50 percent of dogs bred were deliberately killed because they were not competitive racing greyhounds. As a result the NSW government banned the sport, but overturned that ban three months later after industry backlash.

“It beggars belief that greyhound and horse racing are continuing during Stage 4 lockdown in Victoria,” she said.

“The powerful influence of the gambling-fuelled greyhound and horse racing industries has been laid bare. These industries are fundamentally incompatible with animal welfare.

“It’s still cruelty if no one’s watching.”

Under the restrictions broadcasters and direct participants will be the only ones allowed to attend races, with owners, crowds and media excluded.


Feature Image: Pixabay