The AJP Position
The Animal Justice Party believes that animals should be enjoyed, appreciated, respected and cared for in terms of their natural behaviours, whether wild or domesticated. They should not be terrified as they perform unnatural behaviours, under pressure to perform for monetary gain and forced to endure illness, injury and over-exertion all for the pleasure of audience entertainment and gambling. The AJP therefore seeks a uniform nationwide ban on animals in entertainment ban, through Federal legislation.
The AJP is opposed in particular to the self-regulation of the greyhound industry and the government injection of funding through incentive programs to prop up a failing industry long overdue for termination.
As animals are property at law, greyhounds do not enjoy an inalienable right to life. The AJP seeks to provide protection under federal common law for all animals, under the Australian constitution, enabling adequate legal means for legal representation for all animals, including greyhounds.
Formidable animal welfare challenges exist around Australia with regard to the unnatural use of animals in commercially operated entertainment enterprises. One such enterprise with significant animal welfare concerns is greyhound racing. Every year in Australia in excess of 20,000 Greyhounds are bred for the sport of dog racing. More than half this number is killed because they will not chase, are too slow, or have suffered an injury in training.
Researchers McEwan and Skandakumar (2013) stated that an estimated 17,000 greyhounds are killed in Australia each year and only four to five per cent are adopted at the conclusion of their racing career. At the end of 2015, Greyhounds Australasia internal official documents confirmed this. According to figures provided by ‘Greyhound Racing NSW’, over 3000 dogs in NSW alone are killed each year, many inhumanely by being shot or bludgeoned to death. According to Greyhound Racing Victoria of the 7,680 pups born in 2006, 320 were adopted and 6,500 were killed at a young age, with more than half never making it to the racetrack.
Of those greyhounds that make it to the racetrack, they are generally “retired” from racing at the young age of 3-4 years. It is estimated that at least one injury occurs per race. Thousands upon thousands of non-chasers, slow, injured or retired greyhounds are killed every year. Hundreds are exported to China each year. Thousands are surrendered to universities and vet labs for veterinary science training, experimentation or are ‘bled’ and then killed. Thousands end up in pounds. Many are just shot. .
Prior to the 2015 inquiries in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, the greyhound racing industry was self-regulated with very little accountability, transparency and responsibility for its actions regarding breeding, training, usage, injuries and discarding of greyhounds. Changes are currently underway with inquiry recommendations that regulation and promotion roles be separated into independent bodies.
The industry has a token Greyhound Adoption Program that is given significant amounts of money but finds homes for fewer dogs than volunteer-based charity groups with very limited funding. In essence, the industry takes negligible responsibility for these gentle creatures once they are no longer of any profitable use to it, leaving many of the unfunded welfare groups to pick up the pieces.
All the ‘five freedoms’ that animals should experience; viz: freedom from hunger and thirst; from discomfort; from pain, injury and disease; to express normal behaviour; and from fear and distress are affronted in one way or another by performing animal entertainments.
It is a poor reflection of modern Australian moral and ethical standards that the ‘sport’ of greyhound racing continues to exist despite the evidence of inherent cruelty, and massive loss (waste) of life. Also of concern are Breeder Incentive Schemes paid for by the Government (our tax dollars) in the form of appearance payments through racing associations, such as the QGRB (Qld Greyhound Racing Board), to prop up the industry. These schemes are under revision as a consequence of the inquiries.
Greyhound industry viability rests on the over-breeding of dogs to ensure that the probability of numbers will generate some success for the owner. Consequently, many young, healthy dogs are simply destroyed and discarded as a consequence. The resultant overbreeding has led to a market for the use of greyhounds in research, teaching and live export, but mostly an enormous death rate of healthy dogs. The greyhound racing industry facilitates the routine killing of dogs who don’t meet the industry’s criteria for fast running and chasing, and those who are injured and failed racing dogs.
Animal welfare groups and veterinarians involved in the industry have expressed concern over the high numbers of dogs that are killed and the failure of the industry to take responsibility for finding homes for dogs bred for the industry.
There are also highly frequent allegations of dogs being fed or injected with performance-enhancing drugs across the country with positive drug swabs rising to 82% in the year from October 2011 to November 2012 in NSW alone.
Of significant concern, as recent revelations have shown, the horrendously cruel and illegal practice of live baiting remains rampant and once can go as far as to say that it remains standard training practice within the industry. The 2015 investigations confirmed that it is not restricted to rogue elements in the industry but is occurring across different Australian states and by individuals at the highest levels in the industry.
Self-regulation has been shown to be an abject failure. Welfare groups on a shoe-string budget have been able to uncover widespread cruelty whilst very healthily resourced policing bodies within the industry have let these practices go on unchecked. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that these industry bodies were either directed from higher levels to turn a blind eye or lacked the motivation to properly investigate.
The Issues – Specified
1. Excessive Sacrifice of Life
- The Greyhound Racing Industry is the biggest and the cruelest Puppy Farm in Australia. As many as 17,000 young and healthy greyhounds are killed EVERY YEAR because they are not useful for racing.
- “Of the approximate 12,000 racing greyhounds who ‘retire’ every year at the age of 2 to 4 years old, only 10 to 15 percent of them (between 1,200 and 1,800) will be lucky enough to be adopted. The rest are killed.
2. Illegal Practices and Corruption found to be endemic and rampant
- As many as 90% of trainers are alleged to be involved in live baiting.
- Doping of dogs with banned and illegal substances including Cocaine, Viagra, and Ice is rampant in the industry.
3. Cruelty on the Track
- An average of 4 to 5 dogs are injured every week on the track and many are killed despite having treatable injuries.
- Races are held in hot temperatures despite real concerns about heat stroke and consequent likely death of dogs. According to Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Hot Weather Policy, races should be cancelled only at temperatures higher than 38 degrees Celsius.” Most dogs don’t even want to go for a walk on such hot days!
4. Quality of Life Issues
- When not on the track, most racing greyhounds spend up to 23.5 hours in solitary confinement, prison-like kennels without access to stimulation or socialization. They’re let out for 10 minutes three times per day – primarily to relieve themselves.
5. Other Cruel Practices
- Some dogs who don’t make it to the racetrack are routinely given away to medical or vet schools to be experimented on or to have their blood drained – and then are killed.
- More than 100 dogs are exported every year to jurisdictions with no animal welfare laws including Macau, where they are subject to poor living conditions, risk of serious injury and a certain death because there is no adoption program available.
6. State Government Subsidies
- State governments contribute millions of dollars of taxpayer money to this industry. With a growing majority of taxpayers opposing this industry, governments have no ethical ground upon which to do this.
The Animal Justice Party’s Position
Given the many and insurmountable welfare and ethical issues associated with the Greyhound Racing Industry, and based on the evidence of endemic corruption within the Industry, it is the position of the Animal Justice Party that the industry should be phased out over a reasonably speedy period of time to an eventual total shutdown.