After multiple investigations and formal inquiries into greyhound racing, we know that there are many animal welfare issues in the industry.
Through a 2015 ABC investigation, Australians were shocked to learn of the cruelty of illegal live-baiting in the industry, and the mass graves uncovered of greyhounds who were killed when deemed no longer useful. Live baiting is an ongoing issue, with greyhound trainers in Victoria suspended in 2019 for using live possums to bait their dogs.
In addition to these shocking revelations, greyhounds used for racing may endure inadequate housing, a lack of socialisation and enrichment, the risk of injury or death as a result of training and racing, and administration of banned or unregistered substances.
Some of the key animal welfare issues posed by greyhound racing include:
- An oversupply of greyhounds, due to the need to breed enough greyhounds to ensure the supply of sufficient dogs suitable for racing. This means that each year, dogs are bred who are unsuitable for racing and are then considered superfluous to the needs of the industry. Often it is not possible to match the number of dogs bred to the capacity to rehome retiring or unraced greyhounds, leaving these healthy dogs homeless and subject to euthanasia.
- A lack of effective oversight of the life cycle and post-racing outcomes for greyhounds, which can result in an inability to verify the status and whereabouts of greyhounds and, consequently, a lack of transparency, data that is not reliable and uncertainty about the fate of greyhounds who leave the industry,
- Racing and training related injuries and death.
- Inadequate socialisation of greyhound puppies and an ongoing lack of opportunities to socialise and express normal behaviours for racing dogs, who may be kept in kennel-like environments for the majority of their racing careers. In addition to being a dog welfare issue, this can pose barriers to rehoming for these dogs on retirement.
What needs to change
RSPCA Australia considers that there are significant ongoing animal welfare problems in the greyhound racing industry.
Given the numerous unresolved animal welfare concerns associated with the sport, the RSPCA does not support greyhound racing.
For as long as the sport continues, we believe the following must happen:
- Greyhounds should not be exported to other countries for racing.
- An effective national identification and traceability system for all greyhounds must be developed and implemented, to ensure each greyhound born is accounted for throughout their lifetime, including effective oversight.
- Systems must be implemented to ensure the robustness and transparency of the data gathered (e.g. independent auditing and regular inspections rather than a reliance on self-reporting).
- Comprehensive data on lifecycle (birth to death) records and injury statistics must be collected and published (this should be mandatory).
- Independent funding for animal welfare and integrity checks and enforcement must be secured and sustained.
- Increased checks for banned substances and enforcement of strong penalties must be implemented and sustained.
- Any greyhound racing must be overseen and regulated by an independent body, with a formal and complete separation of the integrity and regulatory functions from the commercial functions.
- Compulsory animal welfare standards must be adopted and enforced for greyhounds at all life stages, to eliminate practices that cause injury, pain, suffering or distress, and to ensure all greyhounds have a good quality of life.
- Formal and effective processes must be introduced to address over-supply and wastage. The industry must expect and ensure that greyhounds will be rehomed as companion animals on retirement and provisions must be made to ensure their wellbeing after racing, including appropriate socialisation throughout their lives.
- Third party adoptions (i.e. those not through organisations like GAP) should be verified and followed up to ensure they are genuine.
- Injury rates need to be effectively addressed, racetrack safety improved to reduce injuries, and systems implemented to ensure greyhounds receive adequate treatment and rehabilitation if injured.
- Continued investigations and surveillance for live baiting and other serious animal welfare offences, and enforcement of strong penalties for any animal welfare offences.
Watch the 7.30 exposé on greyhound exports RSPCA Knowledgebase
What is the RSPCA’s view on greyhound racing? RSPCA Knowledgebase
Why does the RSPCA oppose the export of racing greyhounds? RSPCA Knowledgebase
Is the use of live baits and lures in greyhound racing illegal? RSPCA Knowledgebase
What are the animal welfare issues with greyhound racing? RSPCA Knowledgebase
Should greyhound races be permitted in very hot weather? RSPCA Knowledgebase
What do I need to consider before adopting an ex-racing greyhound?