How the NSW welfare code fails greyhounds

On 16 January 2020 the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission released a draft NSW Greyhound Welfare Code of Practice and called for feedback.

CPG made a submission and also launched a petition calling on Racing Minister Kevin Anderson to reject the draft Code as it would lead to more greyhound suffering and death. The petition featured the quotes included below from leading animal welfare groups in Australia and overseas highlighting the many failings in the sub-standard Code. The petition received over 38,000 signatures and almost 1,400 comments highlighting the failings of the Code.

While there are many, many things wrong with the final version of the Code, at least two things were achieved for actively racing greyhounds:

  • the minimum 30 minutes of exercise for adult racing greyhounds that had been omitted from the draft Code was included in the final Code,
  • the minimum housing pen space for a racing greyhound was increased from 3m2 to 3.5m2.

The final Code will be implemented on 1 January 2021.

What did animal experts say about the code

“It is unacceptable that the NSW Code of Practice has not included measures to address the key welfare issue of overbreeding, such as by introducing a minimum age for females to breed and a lifetime maximum number of litters, consistent with Victorian Code of Practice. Mandatory training and education to assist industry participants to comply with this Code should also be included, as per the Victorian Code. The lack of formalised education was noted in research by the Australian Working Dog Alliance as critical to the welfare of racing dogs.”
Dr Rosemary Elliott BVSc (Hons), MANZCVS (Animal Welfare), MPsych (Clin), BA (Hons), President, Sentient – The Veterinary Institute for Animal Ethics​
“After our 2015 investigations led to the exposure and public condemnation of live baiting in the greyhound racing industry, the McHugh Inquiry findings of widespread failures to protect the welfare of greyhounds and the premature deaths of racing dogs, should have led to decisive action. Yet the NSW Government’s draft code still allows racing dogs to be kept in tiny kennels and fails to restrict the over-breeding of dogs merely to be fed into an industry that exists for gambling and profit alone.”
Glenys Oogjes, Chief Executive Officer, Animals Australia
“Humane Society International have long campaigned against the greyhound racing industry and short of a ban, we encourage stronger protections to prioritise the welfare of the dogs, matching or going beyond those prescribed in the Victorian Code.”
Erica Martin, Chief Executive Officer, Humane Society International Australia
“The draft code condemns greyhounds not required for racing to a life of confinement which is not appropriate for other companion dogs. This is not good animal welfare practice.”
Stefania Traini, President and Co-founder – Pet Levrieri (Italy)
“An accurate and reliable database capable of tracking the entire life cycle of each greyhound is needed everywhere in order to monitor compliance and fight corruption. Sadly, the NSW code fails to include that provision.”
Gillian Docherty, Foundation member and Chair, Scotland Against Greyhound Exploitation (SAGE)

“When the New South Wales government backtracked on its plans to introduce a greyhound racing ban, Australians were dismayed that thousands of dogs would continue to suffer in this abusive and unjustifiable industry. The latest smoke screen is a ‘draft welfare code’ that does nothing to protect greyhounds, allowing them to be held in tiny kennels, left without social interaction, and even killed. The weakness of this code exposes the truth: greyhound racing can’t occur without animal cruelty and must be shut down.

Emma Hurst MLC, Animal Justice Party
The NSW Government took no action when hundreds of its innocent greyhounds were sent without even industry passports to Macau where there was no law to protect animals. Around 15,000 to 18,000 Australian greyhounds died at the Macau Canidrome in very cruel conditions. Now it proposes a code that doesn’t even track these dogs once their racing career is finished. This is cruelty!”
Albano Martins, President, ANIMA (Society for the Protection of Animals)
“This draft code completely fails greyhounds. The government needs to go back to the drawing board, or better yet, shut down greyhound racing altogether.”
Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Parliament of Australia
“While greyhound racing should be shut down, in the interim it’s extremely disappointing to see that this code fails to address staffing, operation of kennels or record keeping. The Victorian code provides standards covering these areas and so should NSW.”
Christine Dorchak, Co-founder, GREY2K USA Worldwide
“I get calls daily from vets where dogs are taken to be killed for their blood as greyhounds are universal donors for all dogs and this code will still let that occur.”
Lorraine Ramsay, Director, Rescued Greyhounds of the NSW Central Coast
“After personally looking after about 600 foster greyhounds and seeing the usual condition of their teeth and nails when they arrive, this code isn’t specific enough to fix those problems and it should be, as per the Victorian code.”
Lisa White, President, Friends of the Hound Inc
“We’ve homed more than 1,500 greyhounds over more than ten years as a charity, often using our own savings. How can the NSW government propose a draft code which allows euthanasia of healthy greyhounds because homes are not available for them? The racing and gambling industries must finance homes for all greyhounds not required for racing.”
Janet & Peter Flann, Co-founders, Greyhound Rescue
“Animals contribute to every part of human life, but this code doesn’t deliver on the human debt to greyhounds. As usual, not nearly enough is being done to prepare these dogs for rehoming.”
Teresa (Toni) Donnelly, Chairperson, Greyhound Adoptions WA Inc
“In Ireland most kennels are made of mesh so that greyhounds are able to at least see and touch each other. No thought seems to have been given to this in the NSW code and the profound impact it will have on greyhounds to be socially deprived in this way. Also ten years is an obscene amount of time for housing to be brought up to basic standards, even 12 months is too long.”
Spokesperson, Greyhound Awareness Cork (Ireland)
“The draft code would allow a greyhound to be kennelled in a 3m2 space. This is equivalent to an average-sized human male being confined to a 7m2 space – inhumane conditions for a person and for a dog. To add insult, the draft code would allow industry participants ten years to comply with kennel sizes. The draft code is a weak attempt at regulating an industry that should have been shut down.”
Abigail Boyd, Greens NSW Upper House MP & Animal Welfare Spokesperson
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“The NSW code fails to provide for the critical socialisation period of puppies; the period from three weeks to three months of age. This must be included to support rehoming outcomes, as it is in the Victorian code.”
Practising vet Dr Belinda Oppenheimer (who was closely involved in the development of the Victorian greyhound code and drafted CPG’s public submission on the NSW code)
“The NSW code is not specific enough and will result in poor welfare outcomes. I’m glad we don’t have it in Victoria. Things would be even worse here.”
Julia Cockram, Director, Gumtree Greys Rescue (who with Dr Oppenheimer assessed the NSW code in detail)
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“By allowing sub-standard kennelling to exist for another ten years, the NSW Government is hoping enforcement of the code will be someone else’s problem. Not very brave, is it?”

Dennis Anderson, National President, Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds