Go back – wrong way

THE anti-racing crowd are doing themselves more harm than good.

Amidst all the noise we hear today about greyhound racing a point to remember is that self-described tree-huggers and Greens generally are very much in the minority. Numbers range between 1% and 10% of the population. That is true whether it’s dogs, horses or in parliament. That does not mean they are wrong, although often they are.

What it does mean is that they can shout from the rooftops but they will not get very far, for two main reasons.

First, they don’t have to bother much about the real world because they will never be in a position of power, They may exert a little influence here and there but normally they will be unable to put their words into practice. The majority of people will say that’s just as well. Such is democracy.

Second, rarely do they offer genuine or usable counter suggestions about how to run that world. A classic example would be their preference for seemingly unlimited numbers of asylum seekers – say 10,000, 50,000, 100,000 or more every year – regardless of the huge cost that would impose on the tax-paying community, the risks to national security or the difficulty of installing all the practical means of housing and employing them.

In the greyhound context, highlighting illegal acts is not their main target, although, amongst a few valid points, many of their followers still resort to lies, abusive language and gross exaggeration. The underlying problem is that they want to ban racing altogether, as regularly expounded by discredited NSW Greens MLC John Kaye and his tame PR person, Natalie O’Brien of the Sydney Morning Herald, and on numerous posters and banners around the country.

Comments from members of overseas organisations have an equally strong bias, particularly from the USA where conditions are vastly different to those in Australia. The two cannot be compared.

Consequently, they will get a poor return for all the energy put into their tactics. They will not stop greyhound or horse racing. It is never going to happen. In fact, at the moment, betting volumes are higher than I have seen for the last couple of years.

What they should be concentrating on, as this column tries to do, is to make racing better and safer. Already they have had some success with the restrictions placed on the use of whips, something which much of the general population can understand. But claims that “greyhounds are forced to race” or “stop government subsidies to racing” are not only ridiculous but guaranteed to reduce support from people in the street. It destroys the protesters’ credibility.

Frankly, they should be happy to note that the recent incidents have (quite correctly) raised a storm of protest and extreme reactions from governments – ie sackings and suspensions.

The trick now is to follow up whatever progress is being made – “keeping the bastards honest” – and to make sure that an industry which has had its head in the sand smartens up. Only 21st century standards will do.

The snowball has started rolling, so get behind it.

Finally, here’s a tip. Animal species which have done best are those where humans have placed a high value on their worth. Whale population growth has been a spectacular example. Greyhounds have survived and prospered for the same reason over hundreds or even thousands of years. All because they like chasing. It’s what they do.

On the other hand

It is a no-brainer that greyhound administrations have fallen down on the job by their failure to identify and correct widespread abuses of the system. The details will follow when all the investigative teams report back in coming months.

However, those shortcomings have been accompanied by a lack of sufficient attention to keeping the public informed and interested in the sport of greyhound racing. Nine times out of ten, all the public learns is what is bad about the industry, never the good bits. Unfortunately, the industry has a habit of preaching only to the converted, so that outcome is hardly surprising.

Unjustly, this has placed the greyhound breed itself in a defensive position. That’s obviously silly when the fault invariably lies with its masters, but it is a problem that has to be addressed. It is a simple matter to throw out the people doing the nasty things, but not so easy to present the positive case for the greyhound itself.

Industry or brand images do not happen by themselves. Rather they are created by the products’ owners. It was therefore interesting to read comments by a guru on social and demographic matters, Bernard Salt in The Australian (March 26).

“What endures is brand. However, I think there is a large and potentially expandable segment of the market that wants an ongoing relationship with brand. What business wants for its products — and what I suspect many consumers also want — is a meaningful and ongoing relationship.

Consumer choice can be swift and brutal. The deep connection and affection that some consumers feel for some brands is counterbalanced by indifference to others. The brands that endure best are those that are adaptable and that invest in an emotional connection with a loyal consumer base.”

That’s a clear message. Greyhound racing does not really have a “brand”. More likely it is seen just as a branch of the betting sector, to be treated as no more than a mobile poker machine.

Greyhound bosses must build that “emotional connection” or continue to suffer the consequences.

Past Discussion

  1. The Greyhound has survived for thousands of years (yes I researched) because the rulers of the day cherished them, treated them like family and most importantly kept them out of the hands of the commoners.

    What was, and should rightfully still be, the Sport of Kings is no longer. I know a lot of you see the beauty, grace and ancient hunting instinct behind those trusting eyes but alas a lot of owners don’t. The inevitable caveats placed around racing in the future might make it costlier to participate. That might not be such a bad thing.

  2. The Greyhound has survived for thousands of years (yes I researched) because the rulers of the day cherished them, treated them like family and most importantly kept them out of the hands of the commoners.

    What was, and should rightfully still be, the Sport of Kings is no longer. I know a lot of you see the beauty, grace and ancient hunting instinct behind those trusting eyes but alas a lot of owners don’t. The inevitable caveats placed around racing in the future might make it costlier to participate. That might not be such a bad thing.  

  3. Hi Bruce, What interest me is why in NSW we refer to baiting, the problem with greyhounds is obviously blooding. Here is a copy of the baiting rules, note it is only a 6 months maximum penalty whereas blooding carries two years.
    Under section 18 a person who released a cat inot the wild could be charged for baiting.
    Cut and Paste of Section of the Act..
    PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS ACT 1979 – SECT 18
    Animal baiting and fighting prohibited18 http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/poctaa1979360/s4.html#animal baiting and fighting prohibited(1) A person shall not:(a) use any place, or manage or control any place which is used,(b) http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/poctaa1979360/s4.html#authorise any place to be used, or(c) receive money for the admission of another person to any place which is used,for the purpose of conducting a http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/poctaa1979360/s4.html#bull-fight, baiting an http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/poctaa1979360/s4.html#animal or causing an http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/poctaa1979360/s4.html#animal to fight.Maximum penalty: 250 penalty units in the case of a corporation and 50 penalty units or imprisonment for 6 months, or both, in the case of an individual.(2) A person must not:(a) cause, procure, permit, encourage or incite a fight in which one or more http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/poctaa1979360/s4.html#animal are pitted against another http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/poctaa1979360/s4.html#animal orhttp://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/poctaa1979360/s4.html#animal, whether of the same species or not, or(b) advertise the intention to conduct such a fight, or(c) promote, organise or attend such a fight.Maximum penalty: 250 penalty units in the case of a corporation or 50 penalty units or imprisonment for 6 months, or both, in the case of an individual.(3) In any proceedings under subsection (2), evidence that the defendant was present at a place at which a fight of the kind referred to in that subsection was being conducted is prima facie evidence that the defendant attended the fight.

  4. Hi Bruce, What interest me is why in NSW we refer to baiting, the problem with greyhounds is obviously blooding. Here is a copy of the baiting rules, note it is only a 6 months maximum penalty whereas blooding carries two years.

    Under section 18 a person who released a cat inot the wild could be charged for baiting.

    Cut and Paste of Section of the Act..

    PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS ACT 1979 – SECT 18

    Animal baiting and fighting prohibited

    18 Animal baiting and fighting prohibited

    (1) A person shall not:

    (a) use any place, or manage or control any place which is used,

    (b) authorise any place to be used, or

    (c) receive money for the admission of another person to any place which is used,

    for the purpose of conducting a bull-fight, baiting an animal or causing an animal to fight.

    Maximum penalty: 250 penalty units in the case of a corporation and 50 penalty units or imprisonment for 6 months, or both, in the case of an individual.

    (2) A person must not:

    (a) cause, procure, permit, encourage or incite a fight in which one or more animals are pitted against another animal oranimals, whether of the same species or not, or

    (b) advertise the intention to conduct such a fight, or

    (c) promote, organise or attend such a fight.

    Maximum penalty: 250 penalty units in the case of a corporation or 50 penalty units or imprisonment for 6 months, or both, in the case of an individual.

    (3) In any proceedings under subsection (2), evidence that the defendant was present at a place at which a fight of the kind referred to in that subsection was being conducted is prima facie evidence that the defendant attended the fight.

  5. Betting volumes is a poor indicator to use as to the sustainability of greyhound racing. Greyhound racing without sponsors means it will be dead in the water. Its not as though people betting wouldn’t just move to something else. So in terms of government coffers, it means little difference whether Greyhound racing is here or not. Or do you seriously think all of that money spent on the greyhounds would suddenly go into their super funds instead?

    And sponsors are leaving the industry. Why be associated with a ‘sport’ that is tainted when there are so many other options to choose? By putting on pressure on sponsors we can make life difficult enough that they would rather move their sponsorship money to somewhere where they dont have the hassle of being aligned with an industry rife with live baiting, drugging and people constantly trying to swerve the rules (Darren McDonald is out, no problems, Joanne Gane can have all your dogs …. oh she’s your wife? Oh what a co-incident.) In fact the best way to sum up that mess is to quote Martin Hallinan, owner of Zipping Willow.

    “On Saturday morning I got a call to say that Darren was in trouble and that his licence was suspended, but nothing from Greyhound Racing Victoria to say that owners must move their dogs, no email at all. I got a hold of Darren and we put her in Joanne’s (Gane, McDonald’s wife) name and we thought everything was cruising along good until the Four Cornersprogram came out. 

”

    This is the greyhound racing industry in a nutshell. Owners find out that trainers have been suspended, and rather than be shocked or condemn those people, they simply transfer the dogs to their wifes name and ‘everything was cruising good’. 

    You blame the treehuggers Bruce, but really can you blame them. At every turn of the corner all we see is people either engaged in live baiting or deliberately trying to swerve rules to suit their own agenda. In a normal world, people are shocked by animal cruelty. In the greyhound world, they are more concerned whether the trainer who has been banned has a wife they can quickly put the dogs name into so they can continue on as though nothing has happened.

    But that covers the morality of trainers and owners, what about the organisations I hear you ask Bruce. Im glad you asked.

    When the Golden Easter Egg trials were about to start, a dog you may have heard of called Zipping Willow was banned from racing in it. This ban was overturned and the dog was allowed to compete despite protestations from GRNSW. So you might be thinking ‘Well that sounds like a good thing from GRNSW.’. Only one problem, the day Zipping Willow was knocked out of the Golden Easter Egg, the GRNSW ran a story about how Zipping Willow was retiring and asking readers to submit their best moments of Zipping Willows career. Hang on, you were determined to not have this dog race in NSW and was only allowed to do so through a loophole, yet now GRNSW are lauding this dog??? So who’s side is GRNSW on then? The live baiters? Because thats certainly how it looks from the outside. If you attempt to ban a dog, then all of your actions should follow this, not attempt to ban a dog, then say ‘Oh well we didnt win, so lets talk about how much we love it.’ GRNSW just don’t get it. They just don’t get it.

    And when OH WHEN, are the industry going to address the issue of overbreeding. In NSW alone 10,000 dogs are registered each year. Only 1 to 2000 at best are rehomed or kept as pets after their racing career is over. Where are the rest Bruce? It is not acceptable to have 80% of your product killed each year because they are surplus to requirements. You may class me as a treehugger for that view, but if you survey 100 people, I guarantee you more than half will agree with me. That makes us in the majority. So what are the industries plans to address this issue????

    Unjustly, this has placed the greyhound breed itself in a defensive position” – not really. I have two rescue greyhounds, and almost without exception people approach me tentatively, check that they are retired greyhounds and that im not involved in racing, and immediately you can see them open up and say how much they like greyhounds when they find out Im not involved in the racing industry. So the general public fully understand that the greyhound breed are just as much of the victims here and that the blame remains soley on the industry itself.


    I want the industry shut down not because I dont believe greyhounds shouldn’t race. Not because I believe all trainers are bad. I want it shut down because the industry has had decades to get it right and proven time and again it can’t be trusted. We keep putting band aids over everything, but there comes a point where you cant just keep doing it. Put it out of its misery. Just like you do to 18,000 greyhounds each and every year.

  6. Ahh my comment was deleted. No opposition to Bruce allowed on here. Still GRNSW and GRV adopt the same policies on their social media pages. Luckily in the real world you can comment freely on the national newspapers without greyhound racing industry insiders trying to eliminate any opposition to give the illusion that everyone loves them.

  7. DaveSampson Your comment was deleted because it was a 1000 word rant that quite figures and stats which to be kind would best be called imaginary, You’ve been given more than a fair go with your opinion in this site. If you wish to have your comments displayed then keep them succinct and keep them based in fact not thin air.

  8. DaveSampson Your comment was deleted because it was a 1000 word rant that quoted figures and stats which would best be called imaginary, You’ve been given more than a fair go with your opinion in this site. If you wish to have your comments displayed then keep them succinct and keep them based in fact not thin air.

  9. DaveSampson Hi Dave,

    Answering your previous post is a bit like answering the question “Have you stopped beating your wife?”. I support the points you make on the dog being suspended and then allowed to race and GRNSW being to unfocussed to realise their bad taste. Also I made the point that GRNSW is expecting people to follow rules when they cant get the rules right themselves by referring to baiting when the legislation state clearly blooding. Not very important, yes it is. A bigger scandal happened  at the ICAC inquiry in about 2000 when ICAC discovered that the whole regulatory committee were responsible for a criminal action which carried the same two years potential jail for illegal drug profiling. The authority authorised dogs trained by professional trainers and owned by the public to be experimented on and they insisted that the trainers were required not to discuss the process with the owners. The control board (regulatory side) had to show cause to why they should not face criminal charges themselves. (see ICAC Report and recommendations. Were these people criminals- no they were not but they were performing at a higher duty and had higher responsibility. The ICAC inquiry went on for two weeks and animal welfare took up about 75% of the enquiry. Were the press interested in the animal welfare aspects , no they were not, The point I am making is that there is an evolution in cultural behaviour. If the events of 2000 had of occurred today the scandal would be worse.
    The remarks you make on the leading owner shifting dogs to the banned trainers wife is probably unfortunate but it is an evolution of the law regarding woman’s rights progressed by Gai Waterhouse. The law needs to evolve further. As far as sponsors is concerned you are probably on the wrong side of history, in the end there is no such thing as bad publicity. I take a group touring greyhound tracks each year and this year I have had the best response in 20 years. 
    Cheers.

  10. DaveSampson Hi Dave,

    Answering your previous post is a bit like answering the question “Have you stopped beating your wife?”. I support the points you make on the dog being suspended and then allowed to race and GRNSW being to unfocussed to realise their bad taste. Also I made the point that GRNSW is expecting people to follow rules when they cant get the rules right themselves by referring to baiting when the legislation state clearly blooding. Not very important, yes it is. A bigger scandal happened  at the ICAC inquiry in about 2000 when ICAC discovered that the whole regulatory committee were responsible for a criminal action which carried the same two years potential jail for illegal drug profiling. The authority authorised dogs trained by professional trainers and owned by the public to be experimented on and they insisted that the trainers were required not to discuss the process with the owners. The control board (regulatory side) had to show cause to why they should not face criminal charges themselves. (see ICAC Report and recommendations. Were these people criminals- no they were not but they were performing at a higher duty and had higher responsibility. The ICAC inquiry went on for two weeks and animal welfare took up about 75% of the enquiry. Were the press interested in the animal welfare aspects , no they were not, The point I am making is that there is an evolution in cultural behaviour. If the events of 2000 had of occurred today the scandal would be worse.

    The remarks you make on the leading owner shifting dogs to the banned trainers wife is probably unfortunate but it is an evolution of the law regarding woman’s rights progressed by Gai Waterhouse. The law needs to evolve further. As far as sponsors is concerned you are probably on the wrong side of history, in the end there is no such thing as bad publicity. I take a group touring greyhound tracks each year and this year I have had the best response in 20 years. 

    Cheers.

  11. RaceMedia DaveSampson Figures and stats which would best be called imaginary? really? Could you give me an example? Remember its only me thats going to be embarrassed if you publish them since you claim they are imaginary. Im trying  to think back on what I wrote and I cant think of anything I dont stand by. The only thing I could imagine you getting upset by is my claim of 10,000 dogs born each year in NSW and only 1000-2000 being adopted out or having a life after racing. Regarding the number of dogs born, here is an official government document which gives specific numbers between 2003 and 2011. The lowest figure for these years is 8,294 with the highest being 10,662. 

    http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/lc/qalc.nsf/6b9957d2cbad5bd8ca25700b00232203/58a60367046f09b3ca257abc0029aa66?OpenDocument

    As for the number having life after racing, yes that is a ‘best guess’. And you know why? Because the numbers are hidden from the public. No-one knows. GAP wont reveal the number they adopt out however some simple detective work based on the listings they provide of dogs and seeing at what rate they are adopted out, we can be fairly certain the number is in the hundreds per year, definitely not thousands. The lack of figures of adoption and those that survive after racing is ENTIRELY the fault of the industry. Its not my job to provide the numbers. Its the industrys job to keep track and transparently publish those numbers each year. If they cannot keep track and cannot publish those numbers in a transparent way, then quite simply they arent fit for purpose.

  12. RaceMedia DaveSampson I actually published parliamentary evidence. You deleted it, and yet allow your comment calling my figures imaginary to stand. Well I published a link to a parlimentary document which backed up my statistics, so if you are going to delete my post, I would appreciate you remove your post calling my statistics imaginary as I have proved they are not, and you are defaming me by claiming that they are while removing all evidence that proves you are wrong. And while you are at, just ban me and that way all the greyhound racing insiders can all post here and congratulate each other on what a great job they are all doing like the big boys club it is. No skin off my nose, given the lack of comments I doubt there are that many people reading the stories anyway.

  13. Dave,

    . The statistical records kept on greyhounds are more developed than figures and statistics kept for canines as a whole. The special panel with the former high count judge and previous SC assisting who dealt ,with animal welfare issues previously at ICAC , dealing with matters with the powers of a Royal commission will lift the performance of the control authority out of the pedestrian range. The research of your question and answers is helpful to me thanks. The whole domestic animal resume will benefit by the sunshine. I believe that matters need to be discussed but in appropriate places , My differences with you are that I believe in the evolution of cultures developing at an expidental growth through modern technology. While the graphics of the blooding incidents show criminal activity and obvious social dislocation attributed generally to a small percentage of the population it was not very long ago when people took cut lunches to be entertained by human animals being hung drawn and quartered and their heads put on spikes for the public unfortunate to attend the grand event. My guess is that some people on the edges of the blooding have been involved not believing that they are exposed to criminal acts but simply risking breeching domestic rules. The above is evident in previous defences at court for the rare cases before it. People generally will not be involved in activities they k now to be criminal and this is why the authorities have been so deficient in the past by not raising the matter expressly. An interesting off shoot to me is the deficiency generally of warning people who return cats to the wild of their exposure to animal welfare cruelty charges. While cats can be returned to the wild under normalisation  of animal theory the problem has caused severe problems with an approximate 15 million feral cats destroying other wild life.

  14. Dave,

    . The statistical records kept on greyhounds are more developed than figures and statistics kept for canines as a whole. The special panel with the former high count judge and previous SC assisting who dealt ,with animal welfare issues previously at ICAC , dealing with matters with the powers of a Royal commission will lift the performance of the control authority out of the pedestrian range. The research of your question and answers is helpful to me thanks. The whole domestic animal resume will benefit by the sunshine. I believe that matters need to be discussed but in appropriate places , My differences with you are that I believe in the evolution of cultures developing at an expidental growth through modern technology. While the graphics of the blooding incidents show criminal activity and obvious social dislocation attributed generally to a small percentage of the population it was not very long ago when people took cut lunches to be entertained by human animals being hung drawn and quartered and their heads put on spikes for the public unfortunate to attend the grand event. My guess is that some people on the edges of the blooding have been involved not believing that they are exposed to criminal acts but simply risking breeching domestic rules. The above is evident in previous defences at court for the rare cases before it. People generally will not be involved in activities they k now to be criminal and this is why the authorities have been so deficient in the past by not raising the matter expressly. An interesting off shoot to me is the deficiency generally of warning people who return cats to the wild of their exposure to animal welfare cruelty charges. While cats can be returned to the wild under normalisation  of animal theory the problem has caused severe problems with an approximate 15 million feral cats destroying other wild life.

  15. DaveSampson Just looking at your activity statement I note the following quote “we can advise that an average of 14,057 dogs were racing across Australia for the 12 months ended March 31, 2015” –
    What is the source of this quote.
    Year to date figures are collected which show the total dogs racing during the year to date, it is not an average as such. 
    I need to compare the dogs racing on  a year to date over a period of years to understand trends.
    For example the year to date figure in 1992 was 25,100 (report to sales tax on animals senate committee)
    If the number is as low as you are stating it shows that dogs are having considerably more starts per year than previously (allowing for race numbers) as the TAb racing has dramatically increased and the cost of preparing greyhounds for racing far exceeds the prize money paid there is a burden on owners racing dogs over and above what has happened in the past.
    Greyhounds make up about 3% of the dogs registered in Australia. There is a significant number of dogs not registered but these generally do not include greyhounds. The number of dogs that come up for adoption across the whole range of the companion animal range is significant as the people who adopt dogs are finite.
    A previous report from the Mudgee Branch of the RSPCA revealed that they had placed 80 dogs in adoption in one year and of these 6 were greyhounds. (Video of Interview at the Charity Day Mudgee Greyhound Meeting). The re homing of the greyhounds was well above the average of the Greyhound population to total population of dogs,
    My preferred matrix for the Greyhounds would be to increase the number of dogs racing year to date. Accept that there would be little difference in the breeding stock numbers and reduce the number of dogs bred by using modern systems of leasing, insurance etc. Promote and provide services for the people who adopt dogs including boarding burial and cremation and special events on tracks, social clubs etc.

  16. DaveSampson Just looking at your activity statement I note the following quote we can advise that an average of 14,057 dogs were racing across Australia for the 12 months ended March 31, 2015″ –

    What is the source of this quote.

    Year to date figures are collected which show the total dogs racing during the year to date, it is not an average as such. 

    I need to compare the dogs racing on  a year to date over a period of years to understand trends.

    For example the year to date figure in 1992 was 25,100 (report to sales tax on animals senate committee)

    If the number is as low as you are stating it shows that dogs are having considerably more starts per year than previously (allowing for race numbers) as the TAb racing has dramatically increased and the cost of preparing greyhounds for racing far exceeds the prize money paid there is a burden on owners racing dogs over and above what has happened in the past.

    Greyhounds make up about 3% of the dogs registered in Australia. There is a significant number of dogs not registered but these generally do not include greyhounds. The number of dogs that come up for adoption across the whole range of the companion animal range is significant as the people who adopt dogs are finite.

    A previous report from the Mudgee Branch of the RSPCA revealed that they had placed 80 dogs in adoption in one year and of these 6 were greyhounds. (Video of Interview at the Charity Day Mudgee Greyhound Meeting). The re homing of the greyhounds was well above the average of the Greyhound population to total population of dogs,

    My preferred matrix for the Greyhounds would be to increase the number of dogs racing year to date. Accept that there would be little difference in the breeding stock numbers and reduce the number of dogs bred by using modern systems of leasing, insurance etc. Promote and provide services for the people who adopt dogs including boarding burial and cremation and special events on tracks, social clubs etc.