Racing funding boost is no help to animals

Greyhounds used for racing are placed at high risk of being injured or killed on the track, while hundreds are discarded every year when no longer fast enough to make money. Just like horseracing, the greyhound racing industry is based on financial return: prize money for the race winners and the major revenue coming from gambling profits. The animals are always the losers when profit is the primary motivation.

It has been announced that the New Zealand Racing Board is increasing its funding by $24 million in prize money for greyhound and horse racing over the next two years. None of this extra money, however, is being put into improving animal welfare or the re-homing of ex-racing dogs and horses.

"This is 24 million dollars of tax-exempt earnings going straight into the pockets of racing industry beneficiaries, and not a cent for the industry-funded rehoming initiative, Greyhounds As Pets (GAP), nor any efforts to care for ex-racing horses," says Aaron Cross, spokesperson for the Greyhound Protection League.

This leaves GAP without the money it needs to re-home all the dogs discarded by the racing industry and it tries to make up the shortfall by advertising for volunteers and donations to help the small number of dogs they are able to find homes for.

The greyhound racing industry is very secretive about the exact number of injuries dogs are suffering on the racetrack, as well as the number discarded when they are no longer making money. Greyhound investigators have repeatedly called on the government for transparency around the number of dogs killed and injured, and the exact proportion of dogs that are re-homed, as opposed to euthanised. The racing industry’s response, however, has been to withdraw what little welfare-related information it was previously sharing publicly; information that is still being withheld from the public.

It is left to investigators to use detective work to uncover the truth from the information available. This shows that a huge number of greyhounds simply disappear - between 500 and 600 greyhounds per year euthanised in New Zealand, which includes approximately 50 dogs killed annually after being injured on the track.

The government has allowed greyhound racing to police itself and the industry is long overdue for an independent enquiry into the treatment of dogs while racing and their fate when no longer wanted. It is time New Zealand stopped gambling with dogs’ lives!

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28 April 2017