An independent investigation has found “unacceptably” high rates of injury and euthanasia in the Northern Territory greyhound industry.
- The investigation was prompted by complaints from trainers and members
- No evidence of live bait or fraud was found
- Report recommended new rehousing program to reduce euthanasia rates
The investigation began in June last year after coaches, club members and others filed complaints about the Darwin Greyhound Association (DGA).
Lawyers Hutton McCarthy led the investigation after it was ordered by the NT Consumer Affairs Commission and the NT Racing Commission.
No evidence of live bait, fraud or widespread misconduct was found.
But in the report released Tuesday, investigators said “inadequate treatment” of the greyhounds had been observed, including a poor kennel and high rates of injuries and euthanasia.
A series of recommendations were made to improve animal welfare standards, governance within the association, and oversight by the NT government.
Investigators found 36 greyhounds had been euthanized in 2019 and 2020 and more than 20 of them were due to injury.
Most of the euthanized dogs were two, three or four years old.
The paperwork for “retired” greyhounds was also found to be deficient.
The report also noted that fewer drug swabs had been taken per race dog in the NT, but the positive results were much higher than elsewhere in the country.
“We have been informed that the Racing Commission and Licensing NT do not have any budgetary allocation to carry out drug levies, which are costly,” the report said.
Greyhound Association Welcomes Findings
DGA President Robbie Brennan said the club welcomed the results and would focus on improving animal welfare.
“We are responsible as a running club to provide the best possible facilities for dogs,” said Mr. Brennan.
“Therefore, we’ve spent a lot of money and time, and it’s ongoing, to make sure the track is up to standard, to make sure the dogs don’t get life-threatening injuries, or any injuries at all. “
Mr Brennan said he agreed with the finding that the club’s governance practices have not kept pace with the industry’s considerable revenue growth.
He said the “culture change” had been difficult at the club.
Investigators have recommended that an industry-funded greyhound adoption program be operational no later than July next year.
The report noted that the NT Racing Commission had been proactive and called for a careful review of its own practices, which investigators said could be improved.
“This was recently highlighted by the DGA itself who decided to cease racing at Winnellie Park, citing concerns about the condition of the track, rather than the regulator doing so,” the report said.
The investigation also revealed that Licensing NT failed to adequately monitor and assess the association’s use of public funds.
All greyhound racing jurisdictions in Australia promised in 2017 to have an animal welfare strategy in place, but investigators found the NT had not.
In addition to a welfare strategy, the report recommended that the Racing Commission create a code of practice for NT greyhound racing that is appropriate for the conditions.
Investigators also called on the NT government to ensure that the NT racing commission, including the commissioners, is properly funded to carry out its functions.