Last week I was half expecting to hear news that advertising for the obscene Million Dollar Chase would be illuminated onto the Sydney Opera House for all to see, but thankfully they didn’t have the gall to go that far. But if it hadn’t been for the public outcry over the Everest horse race a few weeks ago, maybe that would have played out, making news headlines. I really wouldn’t put it past them.
The Million Dollar Chase took place on Saturday, propped up by $500,000 in NSW taxpayer funds making it the world’s richest greyhound racing event.
Looking back, it’s disheartening to think that just two years ago we were set on a path that would have seen an end to this cruel industry. But when former NSW Premier Mike Baird made his historic backflip we were all left astounded, to say the least. That day was literally a death sentence for thousands of animals, and as we predicted, the industry’s promises of reform have failed to eventuate.
Racing Minister Paul Toole lived up to his name and last year approved for a staggering $41 million of taxpayers money to be handed to the industry. Then, for a brief moment, we felt marginally reassured with the promise of strict oversight by a new and independent Greyhound Welfare Integrity Commission, yet that didn’t last long. The Commission’s regulations seem to have been relaxed somewhat, and again it’s the dogs who are paying the biggest price of all. And as Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi recently revealed, the Commission spent almost $800,000 dollars of taxpayers money on their new office fit out, surpassing their budget by 70% when none of their Commissioners are even based there!
Time and time again the greyhound racing industry have blamed just ‘a few bad apples’ for tarnishing their precious ‘sport’, yet the animal suffering continues. But given the huge exposure this industry has had over recent years, can this really be true? Let’s have a look at some examples of exactly what’s been happening to the so-called ‘reformed’ greyhound racing industry over just the past few months.
During the first three months of this year, 663 dogs were injured racing with 37 killed or euthanized on track for catastrophic injuries. Image: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals
In July another mass greyhound grave was uncovered in western Sydney on the property of a licensed and registered greyhound trainer. An open pit containing the remains of nine greyhounds was found at the Marsden Park property. Several sick and emaciated dogs were also seized, requiring urgent veterinary treatment.
Earlier this month a greyhound-racing participant in Queensland was charged in relation to administering the dangerous drug diazepam to a racing greyhound. And late last month a Queensland greyhound trainer was accused of doping his dogs using methylamphetamine to boost their performance, and has been charged with 70 drug and fraud offences.
Meanwhile over in Victoria there have been reports of greyhounds who have collapsed and been confirmed dead by the vet following a race, yet subsequently listed as ‘retired’ – is this the industry’s idea of transparent record keeping?
So, if this cruelty and criminal activity is continuing so blatantly, surely the state governments are responding accordingly?
Well, lets take a look at New South Wales first. The NSW Government proudly handed over half a million dollars from a community benefit fund to put towards the prize money for Saturday’s race. This decision was ludicrous. We learnt that there was even one condition stipulated – that the owner who wins must not kill the winning dog! The outcome was equally as unsavoury. Winning trainers Peter and Jodie Lagogiane have a tainted history, yet they still walked away with their million dollar prize. Since 2004 Peter has been before the stewards on several occasions on doping charges, and in May 2018 he and two other men were charged over exporting a dog to Dubai without a greyhound passport. It’s so disheartening to know that our taxes will be lining his pockets.
Doping of greyhounds and illegal overseas exports of the dogs continues to take place. Image: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals
So how about Queensland? Well the government there has proposed two new racetracks and they are forgiving $17.8 million dollars of debt owed to them by Racing Queensland. They claim it will help this important industry keep growing.
In Victoria, the Andrews government have just given $134,000 to Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club, Australia’s largest racing training complex. As well as propping up the industry with more money, the Victorian Government has been promoting it to children – a so-called ‘sport’ built around gambling and rife with animal cruelty.
The greyhound racing industry here seems to be revelling in their apparent victory with their ‘business as usual’ attitude, whilst Australian greyhounds continue to be the victims of this abhorrent industry.
The facts don’t lie. According to Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi, this year 663 dogs were injured racing during the first 3 months. 37 were killed or euthanized on track for catastrophic injuries, which is 10% more than the previous quarter.
As we see time and time again, gambling and animals do not mix. Profit will always override the welfare of the greyhounds in this industry. The scandals will continue and for now the government will continue to sanction it, using public money to prop it up. Money directly from our pockets, the Australian public, the majority of whom back the ban. What an insult to every decent Australian.
But we know that this industry simply cannot afford to continue, its time is running out and it has too many problems to fix. The handouts of public money are not sustainable and it will likely take its acts of cruelty one step too far, resulting in its own demise.
We have long campaigned against this appalling industry and we can confidently say that we will not be going anywhere until it ends.
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