|A greyhound at Manukau Stadium in Auckland, November 2012|
Last week, the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association released a 56-page report in which they review themselves, while at the same time calling it an "independent" inquiry. Their findings are, to put it mildly, a bit bizarre.
The report begins by announcing on the very first page that the authors found no evidence of humane problems:
"The review team investigations found little evidence of issues relating to the care of greyhounds during their racing careers."It goes on to add:
"Interviews with participants in the Greyhound Racing industry highlighted that many owners and trainers are committed to the welfare and safety of their dogs and care passionately about them throughout their lives."Of course, it is no surprise that the dog racing industry would approve of the way it does business. What is surprising, however, is the rest of the report. Once you get past this blanket dismissal, the remainder of the review represents the strongest case yet for why dog racing should end. In fact, documentation of a serious humane issue is cited in the very next paragraph:
"Our analyses suggest that approximately 35% of greyhounds whelped never make it to the track. Due to a lack of effective reporting the review team was unable to establish what happens to these greyhounds."In the paragraph after that, the report indicates that roughly seven hundred greyhounds were killed between 2009 and 2012, and that the true number may be much higher:
"30% of the 2,305 greyhounds leaving racing between 2009 and 2012 are recorded as deceased by NZGRA with the potential for this number to be significantly higher due to the lack of effective tracking of retired greyhounds."The next thirty pages are essentially a long laundry list of one humane problem after another:
"A further issue facing the greyhound racing industry is the incidence of injuries occurring during racing."
"Although there is veterinary attendance and at every race meeting, the practice of recording and monitoring injuries in NZ has been inadequate."
"In the process of the review a culture of non-enforcement and non-compliance of welfare rules was evident."
"There is a need for more responsibility to be taken by greyhound owners for their dogs. There are currently no NZGRA rules that specifically impart this responsibility."
"There are no controls or regulations in place over controlling the numbers or quality of greyhounds bred."
"During our review we asked owners and trainers if they have ever had a healthy greyhound euthanized. The response was that 77% have had a healthy greyhound euthanized."This extensive recitation of animal welfare concerns is briefly interrupted on page 31, when the report strangely claims again that there are no problems:
"Whilst there will always be exceptions in any diverse community, it is our conclusion that, on the whole, racing greyhounds during their career are well looked after and cared for."However, this denial is contradicted by the very next sentence, which indicates that "there are no formal minimum standards of welfare in place."
In its closing pages, the report continues to document a myriad of serious animal welfare concerns:
"It is noticeable that 40% of trainers interviewed did not know that NZGRA has an Animal Welfare Policy."
"There is currently no detailed analysis of injury reporting undertaken and there are no analyses in place to establish issues with particular tracks or parts of tracks, particular trainers or particular greyhounds."
"The NZGRA Board formed an Animal Welfare Committee in 2012 ... However, it is noted that there are no independent members on this committee with a detailed knowledge of animal welfare matters."
"The NZGRA Board has not been as pro-active as it should have been with regard to welfare issues."
"There is currently no designated Welfare Officer in place at NZGRA and it is noted that welfare activities undertaken by NZGRA are performed by several management and staff members on top of their standard workloads."Finally, the review ends by stating that there is a "clear need" for "change in the greyhound racing industry in terms of rules and regulations, education and awareness, and in attitudes towards welfare."
I have to wonder whether such a two-faced report could only come from the greyhound racing industry. To summarize this bizarre review, there are no problems, except there are lots of problems, but there really are no problems, and finally there is a "clear need" to fix the problems that the industry does not have.
Lawmakers, journalists, and members of the public should read this report thoroughly and draw their own conclusions. Do they really want to support an industry that is responsible for so much greyhound suffering and death?