GREYHOUND breeding in New South Wales could be reduced by more than 80 per cent on its 2014 figures over the next four years, casting serious doubts on the sustainability of the industry.
The figures, outlined in a letter obtained by Australian Racing Greyhound, were sent to Premier Mike Baird and Deputy Premier Troy Grant by the NSW Greyhound Racing Industry Alliance’s Brenton Scott.
Dated July 31, the letter provided a glimpse into the plan that convinced Premier Baird the industry was worthy of another chance.
The plan for a sustainable greyhound industry included details on three key modelling changes:
– Decreasing the number of greyhounds able to be whelped via a restrictive quota system.
– A reduction in the number of race meetings to 17 per week in 2018, 2019 and further again by 2020.
– The introduction of a mandatory ownership responsibility for re-homing as well as doubling the investment in the Greyhounds As Pets (GAP) program by 2018.
Under these plans, the model showed 1,453 greyhounds would be whelped in the year 2020, a staggering reduction of 82 per cent based on the number whelped in 2014.
The modelling paints a different picture to that depicted by the alliance, with the industry to look significantly different in 2020 with much more pressure on trainers to lift standards of animal welfare.
It could also potentially spell the death of the small-time trainer. Under the plan the industry would have to ensure:
– 493 greyhounds be retired and re-homed through programs such as GAP or other charities
– 719 retired and kept as pets by their trainer, owner or an unspecified ‘others’
– it also takes into account 716 greyhound deaths through natural causes or humanely euthanised.
The Alliance’s proposal calculated a further 817 greyhounds need to be re-homed under new regulations which preclude them from being euthanised by their owner if they are healthy.
The Alliance put forward to the government that this regulation could be introduced immediately, with all owners of greyhounds retiring from racing that were not retired into the breeding program required to keep their dogs as a pet until the GAP is resourced to re-home 40 per cent of all these greyhounds.
The modelling sent to the government stated 40 per cent of re-homed greyhounds would be dealt with by GAP or charities. The remaining 60 per cent will be kept as pets by their owners, trainers or others.
In regards to the reduction of meetings, the Alliance proposed 22 meetings would be held per week in 2016 and 2017, with just 17 meetings a week from 2018 onwards and decreasing thereafter.
This equates to 850 meetings per year in 2018, with the Alliance suggesting the majority of venues could continue to be utilised, at least in the intermediate future.
The Alliance also suggested it would be happy to work with independent experts in order to achieve a total greyhound lifecycle management system, something theorised for many years, but never delivered upon.
Scott, the CEO of the NSW Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association, is a member on the newly formed Greyhound Industry Reform Panel set to make a series of recommendations to the government on how to improve the welfare, integrity and regulatory framework of NSW greyhound racing following the Premier’s decision to reverse the controversial greyhound racing ban.
While the letter is dated on July 31, Australian Racing Greyhound believes it is important to highlight that a summary of the letter was published on the Alliance’s website on August 8.
This summary failed to mention the precise facts and figures submitted to the Premier and Deputy Premier and merely presented a generic overview which did not detail what the industry was actually committing itself to.
We feel it is unsatisfactory for participants to not know what their industry is committing to the government – this letter should have been made public – not just a summary.
This is relevant now given that the terms of reference for the new Greyhound Industry Reform Panel have specifically cited they must incorporate the guarantees given to the government in a letter to the Premier on August 9, as well as a press release on the same date.
While it is unknown if this is the same letter received by Australian Racing Greyhound, the Alliance must publicly release all of its submissions to the Premier and Deputy Premier, not just a summary contained in a press release, so the industry as a whole can clearly see what expectations it has promised to meet.
This is pivotal so the industry is not kept in the dark. The figures in the letter detailed above cite the sustainability modelling tool by KPMG – another study which has not been made available to the industry.
It leads one to ask why the Alliance are not consulting with the industry on guarantees to government which will ultimately effect every man, woman and greyhound in this sport.
Now is the time for transparency – these documents must be released in full.