Australia’s largest breeder fears no industry in a decade

Paul Wheeler and Korie Heinrich with champion greyhound Dyna Double On. PIC: Paul Munt.

AUSTRALIA’S largest greyhound owner and breeder Paul Wheeler says he has reduced his breeding figures by 50 per cent and has growing fears the industry may not survive another decade.

Wheeler’s admission comes after a series of draft recommendations released by Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) addressing the falling greyhound population and how to minimise its impact on racing over the next 12 to 24 months.

The discussion paper, titled ‘NSW Racing Population Initiatives’, revealed the number of pups whelped in NSW throughout 2016 was down 56 per cent on the 2014 calendar year.

Additionally, the last six months of 2016 saw a 73 per cent drop compared to the corresponding period of 2014.

Wheeler acknowledged events such as the live baiting scandal and the greyhound racing ban had shaken the industry, but said the powers which control the sport had a lot to do with the alarming drop in breeding numbers via schemes such as the breeding pink card and placing limits on the number of litters bitches can have.

“The authorities have got [to take] a lot of responsibility for it. Our authorities just don’t know what they are doing. They brought the pink card in to try and regulate breeding and I was opposed to do it from day one,” Wheeler told Australian Racing Greyhound.

“They thought it would decrease the number of dogs not making the track, but in my opinion dogs not making a track is not a greyhound issue, it’s a human issue.

“It should have been based upon an individual with a breeding licence and if they couldn’t get a certain percentage of what they bred on an annual basis to the track, then their licence should be revoked.

“But instead they’ve put a blanket rule on the actual greyhounds, when in the vast majority of cases it’s the people with the greyhounds which are why they don’t make it to the races.”

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Wheeler said the new rules and regulations, as well as fears over the future direction of the sport, were a large factor in his family, which have owned champions such as Fernando Bale, Dyna Double One, Fanta Bale, Kantarn Bale and Xylia Allen, deciding to dramatically reduce the numbers bred out of their purpose-built breeding facility near Boorowa.

“It’s almost impossible to breed with all the rules and regulations they have,” he said.

“We’ve cut down by 50 per cent and we will keep it at this rate for the next year or two. If we are not happy with the way the industry is going we will be reducing our numbers again.”

Wheeler also said that breeding and racing initiatives won’t cut it alone if greyhounds are not being taught to chase effectively. Since 2015, Greyhound Australasia has banned the use of any animal product in the training of greyhounds, meaning no skins, fur or humanely-killed rabbit carcasses.

Going against any other form of canine obedience or training, the rules also mean you cannot use any food rewards like liver treats or treated animal products such as leather, in order to encourage the dogs to chase.

Wheeler said limiting greyhounds to a blue, fluffy squeaker at the track – which they never catch on race day – is going against nature.

“Not only do we have the impact of a reduction in breeding, but of those that are left there is now a higher percentage of those which are marring and failing to chase,” he said.

“I was watching a documentary on wild animals which had been found when they were young and raised by humans who then tried to re-introduce them back into the wild.

“The natural instinct for them to hunt was basically rendered dormant because they hadn’t been trained by their parents to do that.

“It’s the same thing with greyhounds – there is a natural instinct in greyhounds to chase which is dormant and they have to be trained and taught to do that.

“The way the rules are written now though we can’t even kick a leather soccer ball around now to teach them to chase because it’s made from an animal product.

“The authorities have got the industry into a ridiculous situation.”

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Wheeler now sends a sizeable number of his racing stock to New Zealand where racing is conducted on a finish on lure – meaning greyhounds catch the lure at the end of the race as a reward.

Wheeler – who has built his family’s dynasty over the past 50 years and followed on from the teachings of his father Allan – is worried the direction of the sport will soon lead to its demise.

“If it keeps going the way it is, I doubt very much that there will be an industry [in 10 years],” he said.

“The authorities in the horse industry are trying to run it as a profitable industry for its participants.

“The greyhound industry is not doing that. The greyhound industry is bowing and bending over for the animal activists rather than standing them up to them.”

To ensure the sport’s survival, Wheeler said the governing bodies need to change tack and start calling on people with industry experience to fill positions of power moving forward.

“The biggest problem in the industry is this government word called transparency,” he said

“They are too afraid to employ people for prominent positions within the authority body which have had experience with greyhounds due to the fear that it may not look transparent and that these people may do favours for their friends.”

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  1. :rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl: Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!

  2. Hopefully the new commission and integrity unit will review the rules and regulations that have been brought in since Baird’s ban.To say that these rules were hastily enacted to appease governments and activists would be an understatement. Consideration of the industry racing model should be paramount. This can only be achieved with input from all stakeholders.
    Some of the current regulations are simply unworkable, with outcomes that cannot be achieved.
    Zero wastage is a utopian dream,100% rehoming upon retirement will never happen while assessment parameters fall in the narrow band of all dogs becoming suburban domestic pets.
    Paul Wheeler 's views on breeding have already been heard by Mr Keniry.Morris Iemma constantly heard from the task force that a national approach to breeding was required. State authorities constantly changing regulations does nothing for consistency nation wide.
    Now that the industry as a whole has gone from over supply to an ever sliding under supply, a national approach to breeding and race animal placement might not be a bad thing.
    Only problem is getting all relevant authorities in the same room.

  3. Trevor, the points made by Paul Wheeler are a given and need attention. Also there needs to be a conversation on commercial aspects of the retirement of greyhounds.
    Statistical records on the placement of companion animals are difficult to come by. The AVA believes that there are 4.8 million dogs registered year to date in Australia and that the 4.8 million represents an increase in numbers over the past few years. New South Wales is credited with approx 1/3 of the total population. If there was no mortality rate in young dogs and they all died a natural death aged say 10 (easy for calculations) then the number of dogs born each year would be 480,000. The actual number born each year is considerably higher than 480K.
    The dogs available for adoption per year involves a 25% contribution of Pure Bred Dogs. These numbers do no include the bulk of greyhounds but the greyhounds would make an additional but small percentage of the Pure Bred Dogs.
    The greyhounds are arguably in the top level of pure bred dogs but they have a seperate register to the Kennel Clubs.
    If the statistics of 25% adopted dogs are pure bred then they would be made up of Unrestricted pedigrees on the main register and a proportion of dogs on a limited register. Within the remaining 75% there is an associated register for dogs that are not pure bred. All classes of registered dogs apart from the unrestricted pedigree have various restrictions.
    If you regard the adoption of pure bred dogs as a competition then the Show Dog (Kennel Society) have a big advantage as they produce (cull) the show dogs at the puppy stage where there adoption rates are very successful. The greyhounds adoptions fall generally into the low percentage of adoption of the older dogs.
    Apart from anything else there is a need to have a system where people willing to adopt greyhounds for the whole of life can have contracts or incentives to allow ownership through racing and breeding in partnership with existing breeders and trainers.
    The above contracts exist in handshake deals but need to be made more universal.

  4. “The greyhound industry is not doing that. The greyhound industry is bowing and bending over for the animal activists rather than standing them up to them.”
    Yeah, we don’t want them activists telling people how they should treat their animals.
    Who needs them?
    They go around spreading scurrilous rumours. Even though they turned out true.
    It’s not like the industry has had decades and decades to weed these people out. It take centuries for that to happen.
    These are good people. Honest people.
    They’re just trying to earn a living off the back of their animals. So a few of them are mistreated? It’s not like a lot of people knew about it anyway. Well, maybe quite a few. But anyway. We shan’t go into that.
    These animal rights people are just trying to take away the good honest citizens rights to treat their animals as they see fit.
    Jesus, they’ve even stopped dancing bears and dog fighting.
    What is this world coming to?

  5. Wouldn’t life be boring if we didn’t have a weekly infiltration from a Grey2K flog.

  6. Seriously. Is that your comment? That people who want to protect animals from abuse are ‘amusing’. I guess some people are stuck in an unreconstructed mentality.
    The same people who oppose banning whips, who opposed banning frequent whip use, who opposed…well, just keep naming the losing side and each time you’ll work out where you were.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t abuse animals each week?
    That would be a fantastic improvement on the world.

  7. I agree Novarupta, these young one’s keep sticking their heads up.

    As for Mr Wheelers comments, I don’t believe it wll be all over in 10 yrs, yes the industry will have to pay for the extra regulation but he has to realise the greyhound industry is bigger than Paul Wheeler.

  8. And you somehow think trolling an Australian greyhound forum with your condescending quips that you and your soy latte inner city lefts will chuckle over at your morning barista get together, somehow makes you an animal welfare eco warrior.

    Your just another agenda driven vegan who preaches acceptance but has no construct of what that really means outside your tiny blinkered view of the world.

  9. And you yet again show how some people are undone by satire.
    I don’t drink put soy milk in my coffee, genius, so soy lattes are out for me.
    As for an ‘animal welfare eco warrior’, is that meant as an insult? I don’t see a problem there.
    You: it’s okay to do this to animals.
    Me: Leave the poor things alone
    You: Don’t tell me what to do. We’ve been mistreating animals for centuries, take your indoor plumbing and teeth cleaning implements back to where you come from.
    Me…well, the rest is just laughter.
    ‘An agenda driven vegan’??? Again with the compliments! You’re so kind.
    Your agenda is obvious. You’re less interested in the wellbeing of animals and proud of it!
    You remind me of those people who think caged animals in circuses are having a good time.
    Thanks for the laugh.
    Australia is in the World Cup.
    Italy is out.
    SSM is victorious and there’ll be a bill soon.
    Greyhound abuse is on it’s way out.
    Things are going extremely well so far!

  10. The difference is you claim all forms of racing to be animal abuse by definition.

    That is where you’re fundamentally wrong and where you lose all credibility.