*The Numbers Speak for Themselves*
Recently, we have had several people on our page denying the existence of a high kill rate in greyhound racing in Australia. Further they suggested that the numbers we have mentioned here on the GES webpage were wrong etc. and that we should first do some research. This amuses me as (1) I am in fact a researcher and (2) I have a maths degree. So, I am not only good at this kind of stuff, I also actually enjoy it! So I feel compelled to talk you through the numbers. Don’t worry; you do not need a maths degree to follow.
So here is a small math exercise to show you what the statistics say. Let me first say that you can find some statistics online at Greyhounds Australasia (GA). (That’s what we do in research; we document and cite.) Greyhounds Australasia consists of representatives from the controlling bodies in the Australian States and Territories, and New Zealand. So basically, they should know this stuff, right? One might think… ( http://www.galtd.org.au/GreyhoundsAustralasia/index.php?q=node%2F111)
*Getting the Official Numbers Straight*
One problem is, that the statistics stop in 2011; don’t ask me why. However we also have published statistics from the Australian Greyhound Studbook (AGS) until 2013. Now, the bad news is, if you compare the numbers from both sources, you will find that they are not identical (for example the number of litters in the AGS is 2814 but if you add up the numbers from AG, you get 2887 litters). The good news is that nonetheless they do paint a very similar picture overall.
One third of puppies are not suitable for racing and are destroyed
Ok, so let’s go with 2011 for now because we have information from both sources and you can check the numbers online. According to GA, there were 2,887 registered litters and 11,800 greyhounds named. The AGS reveals that in the last years, the average number of pups in a litter was 6.2. Applying this to the 2,887 litters means that 17,899 greyhounds (=2,887×6.2) were born. Comparing the 17,899 greyhounds born to the 11,800 named reveals that only 66% of those born were actually named. So, over 1/3 of those born (34%) were not deemed suitable for racing or died before being named. That is BEFORE they even enter the racetrack.
*Industry Rehoming after racing*
Now it gets a bit trickier because the racing industry does not produce any figures on what happens with the greyhounds when they FINISH racing. However, we can approximate the number of adopted dogs by adding up the numbers from the rescue groups and the industry adoption programs. For simplicity, let’s look at one state only: Victoria. Victoria had 6,163 pups in 2011 out of which 3,820 were “named”. Hence it had a `wastage rate’ of 38% (slightly higher than average across Australia). Now, the official greyhound adoption program GAP, which is part of Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV), says that they have rehomed over 5,000 dogs over the last 16 years (http://www.grv.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/GRV_AnnualReport2014_FINAL_WEB.pdf). So basically they are adopting out 313 dogs a year (I know, the trend is increasing and in 2014 they had a record number of over 500 dogs but I think 313 is more reasonable to assume for 2011 – in any case, it won’t make much of a difference as you will see below).
*Rescue Rehoming after racing*
The other major greyhound rescue group in Victoria is Greyhound Safety Net or GSN (http://www.greyhoundsafetynet.org/). GSN say on their website that since 2006, they have rehomed almost 600 greyhounds. So they must have rehomed around 67 to 75 dogs a year. I am not sure whether Amazing Greys and Greyhound Rescue Victoria were already operating in 2011, but I think they must have run on a smaller scale than Greyhound Safety Net. But let’s assume, they, together with the RSPCA Vic and Australian Animal Protection Society (APPS) also rehomed between 67 to 75 dogs a year. So we can add 142 rehomed dogs by these rescue groups to the 313 rehomed GAP dogs, hence we have 455 rehomed dogs in 2011.
*Just Doesn’t Add Up*
In a steady-state, where the number of racing greyhounds is stable over time and the number of greyhounds that come into the system (born) is equal to the number of greyhounds that leave the system (`retire’), this has the following implications: It implies that, out of around 6,163 greyhounds bred in Victoria, some 2,343 (=6,163-3,820) never race and never enter the industry (38%), after racing 455 are rehomed (7%) and hence 3,365 are discarded (55%). So you would have to convince me that 93% (=38%+55%) of greyhounds are rehomed privately by their owners/trainers and not killed. Hmmm… This of course would imply that the industry funded adoption program GAP would be highly inefficient as it only manages to rehome 5% (with an industry funding of over $1,000,000 per year) whereas the owners/trainers are able to rehome 95% themselves. Sure, you can convince me that there is a proportion of trainers/owners who rehome privately: maybe 20% tops? This still means we are missing 75% of the dogs.
*Still Doesn’t Add Up*
If you still do not believe me, think about this. If all the greyhounds survive, there would be AT LEAST around 17,899 pet greyhounds living in Australia in 2011 (17,899 pups born in 2011 according to GA). I say `at least’ because this calculation assumes that all greyhounds that have been adopted earlier have died in the meantime – highly unlikely. In NSW alone, for example, there would have to be at least 7,911 (=1,276×6.2 greyhound puppies born) pet greyhounds. There are however ONLY 2,552 registered pet greyhounds in NSW (http://www.olg.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/Annual-reports-of-dog-attacks-in-NSW-2011-12.pdf). With this calculation, we are also missing 67% of the dogs. This is the absolute best case scenario of missing greyhounds!
*Hello, Elephant in the Room!*
This makes me wonder, why do we actually need the revelation of recent accounts of live baiting to shut down the industry, when these basic numbers speak for themselves. When over ONE THIRD of puppies born disappear, never entering racing and the SURVIVAL rate of greyhounds is estimated to be between 7% to 33% (but nobody knows and the industry fails to provide us with a credible number), surely we can all agree that it is unethical that so many dogs die for our entertainment. The industry can claim that the numbers are not accurate, but then, is it not THEIR RESPONSIBILITY to prove to us that they account for at least the majority of dogs? It is not we who have to prove the numbers to them.
Isn’t this blatant deception if GRV’s information management system `Fasttrack’ lists every greyhound that is no longer racing as `retired’ when in fact 88% [1-455/(6,163-2,343)] of those are most likely destroyed/killed/euthanized as outlined above? In addition, the state controlling bodies GRV, GRNSW etc should theoretically know whether the dog has indeed become a pet greyhound or not as the `retired/disposal greyhound notification’-form (yes this is the official name!) which has been collected for years, collects information as to whether the dog has been euthanized, is used as a breeding animal, is deceased due to natural/accidental causes or retired as a pet or GAP dog. Fasttrack states that if a greyhound has been euthanized, the owner needs to send GRV a Vet certificate before retirement can be finalized. Yes, you read correctly. “Euthanasia” is a synonym for “retirement” at GRV.
*You Can’t Make This Up*
If you are still not convinced, I won’t bombard you with more numbers but simply quote the `Animal Welfare Penalty Guidelines’:
“The DEPI Code of Practice for the Private Keeping of Dogs states `dogs or puppies MUST NOT be killed by being drowned, poisoned or gassed ’, and although it does condone a gunshot into the brain at close range as being HUMANE, GRV does not endorse this method of euthanasia due to the serious damage it does to the industry’s reputation.”
Think about it. Just let this information sink in and think about it.
[Hint: THIS INDUSTRY MUST BE CLOSED DOWN!]
The Australian Greyhound Studbook