Wastage: the first battle that needs to be won

ACCORDING to Premier Mike Baird, he claims he was left with no real alternative but to ban greyhound racing in NSW following the release of the McHugh Commission report.

Although the report had 80 recommendations, the first was to shut down the sport; the remaining 79 were to be implemented if the sport were to continue. Baird, apparently unilaterally, took the decision to ban it as of July 1 2017.

Reading through part of the McHugh Commission report, which is broken down into three substantial volumes as well as a fourth volume divided into eight sections, you can get a sense of where this seemed to be heading from the start, and it didn’t look good.

Wastage, the euphemism for the large number of unexplained deaths, was one of the two major planks employed by Premier Baird for his decision. The other was the alleged continuation of live baiting.

The three key figures tabled in the report surrounding wastage are:

– 40% of greyhounds whelped each year, or about 7,000, will never race. (refer to Vol 2 11.46 of the McHugh Commission report; also Vol 2 11.60)

– Between 74 and 97% of greyhounds are euthanized before they reach 4.5 years (or 53 months of age). (refer to Vol 2 11.47 of the McHugh Commission report)

– Between 13,000 and 17,000 healthy greyhounds are killed annually. (refer to Vol 2 11.46 of the McHugh Commission report)

All these figures are arguably unreliable and inaccurate, yet the truth is that nobody really knows as there are no reliable figures available.

What is especially noticeable is the scathing response of McHugh to the submissions and responses of GRNSW, writing of ‘a particularly unhelpful submission’ (Vol 2 11.78), ‘figures provided…riddled with inconsistencies, inclusions and exclusions’ (Vol 2 11.81) and so on. It was obvious from the beginning McHugh considered those in control of GRNSW to be next to useless: ‘It is worrying that GRNSW continues to display resistance to full lifecycle tracking for any reason.’ (Vol 1, 10.55).

The Commission claims GRNSW failed badly in its first Strategic Plan, adopted in July 2010, and entitled ‘Chasing 2020’ in respect of its ‘need to improve lifecycle tracking’. As the Commissioner notes, ‘That aspiration was also publicly reported in the GRNSW Annual Report 2010. It was not mentioned again in subsequent Annual Reports. It is another aspiration which was not achieved.’ (Vol 2, 11.33)

McHugh continues, ‘The Commission does not accept that deficiencies in the lifecycle data are solely attributable to weaknesses in the information technology systems…Those systems were inherited almost seven years ago. In September 2011, the digital greyhound tracking database, OzChase, was introduced but the status of individual greyhounds was not fully documented or maintained within the system. It was not until March 2013 that OzChase was used to record the reasons for a greyhound’s death, including reasons why it was euthanized. However, that information was not entered into the system until the owner or trainer of the animal lodged an R 106 Form and even then it was not always entered.

GNSW did not enforce R 106 compliance [until] late 2015…’ (Vol 2, 11.34)

It gets worse. McHugh then makes the claim (and one that must be seen as valid given what has gone on), ‘It has very much suited the industry under prior management to maintain substandard and incomplete records of lifecycle outcomes. It enabled GRNSW to claim…that because there were many possibilities…no definitive conclusions could be drawn.’ (Vol 2, 11.35)

The then-CEO, Brent Hogan, when asked by the Select Committee Public Hearing in November 2013 to explain what happened to the many greyhounds who never made it to the track, responded that it wasn’t a black or white issue because greyhound racing is a borderless industry with dogs moving interstate and between trainers. ‘The issue of 30% to which you refer [by this I think the committee must have claimed 30% of greyhounds registered were now unaccounted for] is that they could be…retained by their owners as pets…privately adopted by…individuals…or through…Greyhounds as Pets…they could also be used for breeding purposes…’

Brent Hogan’s defence had some validity if you accept the view that running an organisation where you have no idea where your racing product happens to be at any particular time is acceptable. That defence smacked of either total incompetence or deliberate obfuscation, or a bit of both. Basically, it was a ‘if we don’t know the real numbers then we can’t be held accountable’ argument. Well, look at the result.

Of course the failures of GRNSW are also the failures of the relevant Minister for Racing and the State government as a whole. After all, they ultimately control GRNSW.

The only potential consolation for greyhound racing is that both horse racing and harness racing are equally in danger, as wastage in both those codes is at high levels and the spotlight is certainly being turned on them following the greyhound decision.

Of course, large numbers of healthy horses being carted off to the knackery for no other reason than they can’t run very fast is not a valid argument to have greyhound racing restored.

Nonetheless, if the NSW government were to determine that wastage in harness and horse racing numbers is somehow acceptable, then it rightly leaves itself open to charges of blatant discrimination against greyhounds.

Of course, if greyhound racing is to successfully fight a battle to have Premier Baird’s decision overturned, there will no doubt be a severe restriction placed on breeding numbers and almost certainly restrictions on who will be given a licence to breed. The days of the hobby breeder, owner, trainer may well be over. Each and every greyhound whelped in the state will indeed need to be well and truly accounted for across its entire lifecycle as a potential racer.

I believe it is an absolute priority that whoever leads the charge to have this decision overturned immediately formulates a comprehensive detailed plan as to how each and every greyhound whelped in the state will be accounted for throughout its life.

If we as a sport/industry are able to produce the kind of welfare response that can be implemented across the state and properly overseen, with extreme penalties for non-compliance, that should be a major first step towards the rehabilitation of racing.

Past Discussion

  1. It never ceases to make me laugh how the industry yells ‘The figures are all wrong.’

    But then never produce any of them. I have repeatedly challenged people on here to give me a figure. No-one can. No-one has the balls to produce a figure and stand by it, so how you can claim the figures in the report are wrong is beyond me.

    I also find it funny that everyone in the industry goes ’No-one knows what the figures are’ without any hint of shame. In what other industry would you not know where your core product came from or where it was going to? I would be embarrassed, the fact that the industry isn’t is why its being shut down.

    But we’ve reformed they cried, the last 18 months we’ve reformed. No you haven’t. If I walk into the offices of GRNSW today and say ‘Produce for me the number of greyhounds who have died in the last 12 months’ they couldn’t do it. This is like reform 101 and you still fail!

    Oh and 1 other tip. In terms of public relations, if I was GBOTA I wouldn’t be going around bragging that you are awash with money since it only highlights that you would rather hoard away bags of money than spend any on greyhound welfare. Its very clear GBOTA is an old boys club that has no clue about social media or PR.

  2. Dave, ok, get us the facts where 48000 to 68000 greyhounds have been slaughtered, there are no bloody facts, anyone can say a number and the public believe it, also where are the 20% of trainers that are live baiting still, that’s crap too, there are around 1600 trainers in nsw so 20 % would be around 320 people still live baiting, the real facts are not one person has been found to be live baiting since the scandal 14 months ago where ten people were charged, but it’s ok for the government to make up these facts and get people who have no bloody idea about the industry to believe it, it’s a load of crap,

  3. DaveSampson75 

    dave, simple answer to that is this.

    THERE WERE NO RECORDS KEPT BY THE GOVERNING BODY,GREYHOUNDs AUSTRALASIA,OF WHAT HAPPENED TO DOGS ONCE RETIRED.

    FACT. CHECK WITH THE FOOL WHO LEADS THAT ORGANISATION…..HE ADMITS IT HIMSELF THERE ARE NO RECORDS UP TO THE LIVE BAITING SCANDAL.

    so it’s not a participants problem it is/was the organisations pathetic PAPER FLOW SYSTEM,or lack there of.

    and one very important key factor.

    WASTAGE…….. it is well known that VETS charge large fees to euthanize dogs(any dog by the way) and,when you think it is done properly,THEY, yes the VETS, send those dogs(healthy dogs) off to the UNIVERSITY to be used for BLEEDING to save other animals etc;……so in a way,one must take that into consideration. same as we humans, when we do BLOOD DONOR DRIVES.take that facility away by removing dogs from being put down, and the flow on is OTHER BREEDS WILL SUFFER………bugger.

    so some ,I said some, WATAGE does have a positive,AND from what my vet told me,because greyhounds are strong,robust athletic types,they are the best type for such useage….or is that WATEAGE?

  4. Shanew1976 

    shane,

    I was amused by the answer to a question on SYDNEY radio in the past day,where LYN WHITE of ANIMALS AUSTRALIA was stated as saying she also believed it was still occurring today,AND SHE HAD INSIDE TIP-OFFS.

    uuhhhmmmmm,interesting answer,then WHY THE BLOODY HELL HAVEN’T YOU REPORTED IT MY DEAR,AND LEAD THE RSPCA/POLICE ETC; TO THE PERSON/S CONCERNED.

    no such TIP-OFF exists…..AND IF THEY SAY AGAIN WE KNEW ABOUT THIS 6 MONTHS AGO, then when is it there obligations to pass on immediately that type of offence.

    WITHOLDING INFORMATION AGAIN FOR LONG PERIODS whilst  animals(bait) suffer,hasn’t that happened before?

  5. Shanew1976 So basically to summarise, you dont have any figures whatsoever. Thought so. And I know you dont get it, but the industry should be absolutely ashamed that it doesnt have any figures. No figures. Not even now, 18 months after the events … rofl, you could not make up the incompetence of the greyhound industry, now they have the nerve to say ‘Give us a  3rd chance!’ … no way. Youre being shut down, and I would do it if only for the incompetence of the GRNSW and GBOTA.

  6. That is the problem there are no records ,there are numbers of litter registrations,numbers of dogs named but very few of deceased dogs or rehomed  privately dogs ,this is where the anti extremists have played the public as they are assuming and it is law you cannot assume anything ,in my work as a nurse I cannot assume something has happened if I did not witness it ,you just cannot make assumptions in any situation ,so benefit of the doubt has to come into force , another industry run by the NSW government ,why does it only happen in this state ,

  7. This is the MOST ridiculous article!!! What a load of shit. The only people to blame for closing the industry is the industry itself. You only have your unethical selves to blame. The public will believe a QC & Commissioner over an industry that’s trying to cover its arse. Shame on you. Now shut the fuck up & go away quietly. We’re sick of hearing about it. You had your chance to make it right & you didn’t. Everything has a consequence & it eventually caught u with you. Suck it up. You’ve done enough damage.

  8. & the Commission found that even by reducing race numbers to the minimum required for industry viability (593 races) that’s 2000 to 4000 dogs that would still be killed prior to reaching racing age each year. There’s some stats for ya!!!

  9. dogem53 Shanew1976 

    Lyn White isnt interested in protecting animals.

    She now has a charity that gets million in donations in per year through media exposure. 

    Exposure equals dollars in. Cancer wouldnt be nice enough for that woman. 

  10. Peter Bell – oh so the industry cares about the dogs then?!! What a load of rubbish. Lyn White is the best thing that ever happened to animals.  Her job is horrific and I don’t know how she keeps going but she does.  She’s a stronger and far more integral person than you – you whiney little boy.  The things she must see and has to fight is mind boggling.  The greyhound industry’s antics are but one disgusting thing she has to deal with.  She is doing a great thing for the world, as opposed to you, so why don’t you go get a real job that doesn’t exploit animals huh??? Greyhound racing is banned in many other countries because it’s backwards and barbaric.  So you’re  just lucky that you had it for as long as you did.  It you can’t govern and regulate yourselves or be trusted to do the right thing, then it’s nobody else’s fault other than the industry itself.   I also ask, why is the greyhound industry saying the dogs will die if the industry shuts down?  If they LOVE their dogs so much (as they claim) then why wouldn’t they keep them as pets??  If you stop the breeding of them then you stop the wastage.  Simple.  The greyhound industry should use any taxpayers money that it has received in the past and put it toward rehabilitation and rehoming of these beautiful dogs.  Otherwise they can pay the damn money back. 

  11. KristyMason Peter Bell Lyn White and her cronies have never spent a single cent on any animal. Not one cent has been spent on food, bedding or rehoming. Half of the money collected goes in administration and salaries and given that one of their arguments for why they are a great organisation is that they have a small administration ( given what it costs to run this small administration we can be very grateful that they do not have a large one heaven forbid what that would cost) The other half of their budget goes to producing animal torture and snuff films  which no decent person wants to see but might provide some light entertainment for those who really enjoy being cruel to animals. These people are not driven by a love of animals but a need for power and of course a nice well paid job with travel  expenses.

    There are within the community genuine, committed welfare groups but I don’t think Lyn and her friends are. Get a hold of their taxation returns Kristy they make fascinating reading although they are a little light on the details about how administrative expenses are broken down between wages and travel. You will not find a single cent has been spent on an animal.

  12. Dave, why is it that you can just pull figures out of the air without proof or qualification and that’s okay?  Plenty of reform has happened in the last 12 months, just because your obsession with counting dead dogs has not been catered to does not mean reforms have not happened. Why do you need to know? Why if you really care about greyhounds don’t you do something positive like call for rehoming programmes, something that might actually help a greyhound, demonising dog trainers and owners is not really going to help any greyhound.

  13. dogem53 DaveSampson75 To take your points in turn. You are absolutely right. No records were kept and that is a complete failure on the part of the organisers. However once the scandal broke and the industry said ‘We are going to turn this all around’, why did the participants not hold them to this? You call us lefties etc, but at least we hounded GRNSW to keep whole life tracking of greyhounds lives. If you wanted to keep the industry alive, you should have joined us and kept pressure to ensure they were doing this but there is clearly a lack of will amongst participants, because I know deep down, most dont actually cares what happens after their racing career is over.

    Also can I ask, what is the point of GBOTA. surely they should have been all over GRNSW like flies on , but from all accounts they werent. Why arent I hearing any vitriol for their complete failure on many issues here?

    2nd point you made. Im sure use of dogs for their blood etc does have some use for certain elements in society, but just because the side effects of wastage has some ‘good’ points doesnt make it right. I would far rather we shut the industry, and then for universities or whoever else that need blood to define how much blood they need, how they now intend to obtain it. This would have far greater transparency. At the moment its just a free for all because there are so many dead greyhounds. If a uni has to deal with slightly fewer blood supplies in order to carry out experiments or whatever they are doing, then so be it. But lets be clear, the greyhound industry isnt supplying dead dogs on the basis of helping out uni’s. So lets deal with the core issue first, THEN worry about any knock on effects (which will be very minor) later.

  14. KristyMason Peter Bell Retard

    maggots like you use our taxes off gambling to put your kids through school, through hospital and just about everywhere else our taxes go. 

    Gambling is responsible for 10% of NSW GDP – thats right we supply 10% of the taxes that you spend via our gambling. We dont receive any money off the government. Hence why we are worth million to the economy.

    Thats the problem – you people are so uneducated its not funny. 

    How many greyhounds will Lyn white rehouse ? thats right none. Because she isnt interested. Just another maggot stealing some poor bastards donation. 

     

  15. So for people like myself who have dogs, I don’t live bait, I put all the dogs through the adoption program to be re homed, I treat the dogs like kings, where does it leave me and thousands of others like myself, we have done nothing wrong, and you people who have no idea whatsoever sit back and criticise others should be ashamed of yourselves, you watch TV and believe the bad things you hear, go to some trainers houses and have a look at how the majority of greyhounds are treated and you may just change your bloody opinions,