‘Appalling’: 4000 ‘missing’ greyhounds
Tonight the "world's richest dog race" - the TAB Million Dollar Chase - will be run in Sydney but for some, the focus will be on the greyhounds who didn't make it to the track.
Troubling analysis released today has raised questions about Australia's missing greyhounds, with animal rights groups estimating more than 4000 dogs a year have disappeared just in NSW.
The Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds believes thousands of greyhounds are still being killed every year.
A previous report from the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in NSW highlighted the number of missing dogs could be as high as 80,721 over 12 years.
But since the report was released in 2016, dogs have continued to disappear, according to the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds.
The coalition estimates about 4000 greyhounds were unaccounted-for in 2017/18 and a similar amount in 2018/19.
"Nothing has changed," Coalition vice president Dennis Anderson told news.com.au.
"The business model of the greyhound racing industry relies upon killing the dogs that are no longer profitable," he said.
"It's appalling, it's absolutely appalling."
The statistics are a sharp contrast to the emotional "Poetry in Motion" ad campaign released to promote tonight's $1 million race, which celebrates the grace and beauty of the dogs.
Greyhound racing in NSW has been a controversial topic ever since ABC a exposed "live bait" scandal and former NSW Premier Mike Baird attempted to ban the industry in 2016. He backflipped on the decision after a backlash from the industry and community.
Since then the industry has tried to overhaul its practices and image but Mr Anderson believes the missing dogs had likely been killed.
"About 3500 greyhounds were whelped (or born) last financial year but there's not 3500 people in NSW putting their hand up to adopt a greyhound," he said.
"If you had 3500 people every year putting their hands up to adopt, obviously the industry wouldn't destroy the dog.
"But the owners and trainers won't keep feeding the dogs if they are not profitable. The whole industry is about profit."
'WHERE ARE THEY?'
Mr Anderson said confidential documents suggested about 40 per cent of greyhounds weren't fast enough for the racetrack so of the 4415 greyhounds born in 2015/16, and 3056 in 2016/17, more than 1000 dogs each year should have been adopted.
Added to this should be the greyhounds that were retired.
Assuming they were retired after four years, the coalition believes about 4000 dogs should have been retired bringing the total number of greyhounds available for adoption in 2017/18 to 5810 dogs, and 5605 in 2018/19.
Yet only 1810 were rehomed in 2017/18 by Greyhound Adoption Program NSW and other private rehomers, according to the Greyhound Racing NSW 2018 Annual Report.
"This leaves 4000 unaccounted-for. Where are they?" Mr Anderson said.
'SANCTIONED ANIMAL CRUELTY'
Animal welfare supporters are expected to protest on Friday night at Glebe's Millard Reserve when the world's richest greyhound race, the TAB Million Dollar Chase worth $1 million in prize money, is run.
Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst has described the greyhound industry as "government sanctioned animal cruelty".
"Greyhound racing is a cruel industry built on the backs of thousands of suffering animals," Ms Hurst said.
"Over the past year the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission has reported over 1300 greyhounds have been injured on the racetrack. That is almost 20 per cent of all dogs who make it to race.
"The reality is this number is likely even higher."
She said there were no public statistics about how many young dogs were killed because they were considered too slow to win.
"This is an industry lacking in transparency, and integrity," she said.
"What is very clear is that the number of dogs injured on the racetrack is growing. According to the Commission's own data, injury incidents have been on the rise since 2016, and this trend is looking to continue.
"These statistics have shocked and outraged the NSW community. Their reaction has made it clear that the cruel greyhound racing industry no longer has a social licence to operate in our state."
Ms Hurst believes the NSW Government needs to rethink its position on greyhound racing.
The coalition is calling for the industry to fund a sanctuary for greyhounds to live because there are not enough people to adopt them.
It would also like the recommendations of a University of Technology Sydney study done on greyhound racetrack design to be implemented.
The study said tracks should be redesigned to be straight, and not curved, and that the number of racing dogs should be reduced to six, to reduce injuries.
Despite the study being released in 2017, there has been no action so far.
"The industry is failing in its welfare responsibilities and they're expecting private individuals to clean up the mess created by the industry," he said.
News.com.au contacted Greyhound Racing NSW for comment but it was unable to respond before deadline.