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Racing – Missing Dogs

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 26 November 2020

Tags: Greyhound Racing, Animal Welfare

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I want to talk to you about what happens to a significant number of greyhounds that are not seen or heard from again. There's a list here, for example, of a number of dogs ranging in age from 1.7 years to 3.8 years - their names: Teflon, Alolo Miss, Pat to Go, and on it goes. These dogs are case studies and they will just be at a point in time. At any given time, there's a series of dogs that are not seen again. These are case studies and not all the dogs on this list we have, which I believe has been provided to your office.

What happens in terms of follow up when it's clear a dog hasn't been seen for at least six months? These are names of dogs as at November this year.

Ms HOWLETT - I thank the member for her question. It's really important you know I take animal welfare extremely importantly and we will continue to invest more money than ever before into animal welfare. The recent media release alleging there are hundreds of missing greyhound pups provided an incomplete and inaccurate picture of the current welfare standards in the Tasmanian greyhound racing industry.

It is my understanding there are not hundreds of missing pups, rather the status and location of all greyhounds are tracked by the regulators throughout their racing career.

John, you've been looking at this. The number of greyhounds identified as missing by Let Greyhounds Run Free is more accurately described as those greyhounds that have not formally raced. The location and/or retirement status of registered greyhounds is known by the Office of Racing Integrity. and ranges from unraced, currently racing, breeding, retired as a pet, diseased or euthanised.

Mr KING - I have had several meetings with Let Greyhounds Run Free in relation to this matter.

Ms O'CONNOR - I know. Good on you for that, by the way.

Mr KING - Thank you. We do have different auditing processes that we use to try to identify dogs that potentially are not racing. The first thing we use is an inactive racing report, which is run across our national database, and that essentially looks at dogs that have previously raced in Tasmania, and then have not been raced for a period of six months.

That is quite a laborious, labour-intensive process, looking up those dogs, but we do it. We are on about our third session of that since I have been involved with the ORI.

The query we have just written - particularly as a result of the query from Let Greyhounds Run Free - is an ability now for us to search for a cohort of Tasmanian-bred pups, and then we can look at their current status at any given time.

That provides us with two real mechanisms to highlight the status of greyhounds that do not quite fit, and then we can go exploring, contact trainers, and ask them what is going on with their animals.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Mr King. I want to acknowledge that there have been systems put in place at the ORI which allow for much better whole-of-life tracking of dogs that are in the industry.

The list we have from Let Greyhounds Run Free, of dogs whose fate is unknown, runs to 22 dogs. They are adult dogs, not pups. I am wondering is it possible for us to send this list to you and see what information we can elicit from that process offline?

Mr KING - Yes, there is no problem with that at all. In fact, we have contact with Ms Chambers quite often, and we are always looking up dogs for her to clarify their status. We have no problem whatsoever providing that information.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you. As my final question on this matter for now: are we able to have the data, relating to the 2019-20 financial year, of the number of dogs that raced over the course of the year, the number of dogs that were injured, the number that were retired, the number that were rehomed, the number deceased by natural causes and the number destroyed?

CHAIR - Is that information you have there minister, or is it information ORI -

Ms HOWLETT - We have some of that information here.

CHAIR - Rather than providing some of it, are you happy, minister, to get Ms O'Connor to put that question on notice as well, for the minister and the ORI to come back to you?

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes.

Mr TUCKER - The Tasmanian Racing Appeal Board - TRAB - is a critical part of Tasmania's racing integrity structure.

Ms O'CONNOR - Massive slappers on the wrist.