Money goes to the dogs not horses in Oz

Big Fail in Queensland

In an article last October, we were dismayed to learn that a volunteer organization that rehomes Standardbred racehorses was forced to close its doors due to lack of funding, just weeks before footage of Thoroughbreds being sent to slaughter was aired on ABC 7.30.

Then we learn that the Queensland greyhound adoption program gets almost $1 million a year, while programs rehoming racehorses are now lucky to get $10,000.

 In a meeting with the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, Melissa Bell discovered they were contributing to the Greyhound Adopting Program. (ABC News: Colin Hertzog)
In a meeting with the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, Melissa Bell discovered they were contributing to the Greyhound Adopting Program. (ABC News: Colin Hertzog)

Melissa Bell has volunteered for 12 years running the Standardbred Association of Queensland’s (SAQ) adoption program, which has been finding homes for former trotters since 2002.

“We’ve been rehoming around 80 to 130 a year, and we’ve almost hit 1,200 that we’ve actually found homes for,” she told 7.30. But on October 1 this year, they had to shut down the horse adoption program because of a lack of time and funding.

”We did actually have a lot of our trainers and owners that have contacted me very upset, saying, ‘what do we do?’,” she said. “And there’s really no answer, other than trying to rehome them themselves.”

Ms Bell said SAQ has been appealing to Racing Queensland and State Government-funded Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) for funding for years.

She met with an official from the QRIC in June, asking for funding and help to simplify their adoption process.

“Their suggestion was actually to get rid of our three months, six months and 12 months checks on adoptions,” she said.

“I explained to them that that’s an integral part of our adoption program. That’s why a lot of the owners and trainers trust us to rehome horses.”

The QRIC also said that “the challenges of rehoming horses is very different to rehoming greyhounds as pets”.

“The logistics of rehoming a large animal like a horse are also very different with many considerations.”

Queensland Racing declined 7.30’s request for an interview and did not respond to questions.

The Fund for Horses have also been trying to reach the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission for several months but they have not responded. “They leave us no alternative but to take more assertive action.”

In the meantime, greyhound racing has seen 64 greyhound deaths and resulted in more than 1,200 injuries in 2019 in Queensland alone, according to figures compiled by the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds (CPG). Things are not going well in Queensland.

Racing Victoria Steps Up

Jessica Schneider is also struggling to access funding. She is one of Racing Victoria’s official re-trainers as part of its Off The Track program. Her business is re-training and reselling thoroughbreds and she said she currently had 20 on her property near Geelong.

“Our main aim is just finding what each of these horses is going to be good at and pursuing it, and then finding the right person who can nurture that and take them on in their second careers,” she told 7.30.

It is estimated that keeping a thoroughbred costs roughly $250 to $350 a month once feed, basic vet bills and shoeing are taken into account.

Racing Victoria this week announced a $25 million horse welfare package, which CEO Giles Thompson confirmed would include funding for Off The Track re-trainers.

“There’s no doubt that Racing Victoria will invest, and will look to support these re-trainers more broadly than we have done to date,” he told 7.30.

“I think we now want to accelerate that program and double down on that, and that will require more direct investment from us.”

He acknowledged that it is disappointing that it took a scandal like the footage aired on 7:30 for the race industry to examine issues around retired racehorse welfare.

Good on ya.

Related Reading

Australian Horse Welfare Taskforce receives federal support, 16 Feb 20 »

Animal rights activists release shocking statistics behind the greyhound racing industry in Australia, 13 Feb 20

WA racing industry overhaul to track the welfare and whereabouts of retired racehorses, 14 Nov 19 »

The Queensland greyhound adoption program gets almost $1 million a year, programs rehoming racehorses are now lucky to get $10,000, 31 Oct 19 »

FEATURED IMAGE: Greyhound racing. EcoPrint / Shutterstock


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