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

Fund for Horses Logo

Ex-racehorses to be rehomed rather than slaughtered under new Queensland plan

An undercover investigation by ABC's 7.30 programme allegedly found hundreds of racehorses being slaughtered in Australia every year after retiring. ( ABC 7.30 )An undercover investigation by ABC's 7.30 programme allegedly found hundreds of racehorses being slaughtered in Australia every year after retiring. ( ABC 7.30 )


Australian flag icon.

Queensland racehorse owners will have to prove they have tried to rehome their animals multiple times before they can apply to send them to slaughter, under recommendations set to be implemented by the State Government.

Key points:

  • An independent inquiry made 37 recommendations to reduce horse slaughter
  • A racehorse rehoming scheme will be funded by a levy on prize money
  • The State Government wants the Commonwealth to create a national horse register

The overhaul in the treatment of retired racehorses is a key recommendation of an inquiry into the sector, after the ABC’s 7.30 program revealed hundreds of the animals were being sent to slaughterhouses, in contravention of racing rules.

The 7.30 story also exposed multiple allegations of mistreatment of racehorses at a Queensland abattoir, including being lashed, kicked and stomped on.

The independent inquiry, conducted by retired District Court judge Terry Martin, recommended boosting Queensland’s Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) to reduce the numbers of horses being sent to slaughter.

Abattoir to be Last Resort

QRIC, along with Racing Queensland, will also establish and run a rehoming scheme to ensure horses find a new life after racing retirement.

“It will require owners to make two genuine attempts to rehome the animal, before they can consider euthanasia,” QRIC boss Ross Barnett said on Monday.

Read on »

Um, just to be clear, slaughter is no way, shape or form a type of euthanasia. It is a brutal and terrifying death. Additionally, who is going to be the arbiter of the two strikes and you go to slaughter proviso? — Editor, Tuesday’s Horse

CCTV to be mandatory in all Queensland slaughterhouses

Lydia Lynch, reporting for the The Brisbane Times writes:

Queensland’s Agriculture Minister is confident CCTV cameras will be installed in slaughterhouses across the state by the next election in response to an inquiry into the treatment of retired racehorses.

Minister Mark Furner hoped he could come to agreements with abattoirs around the state “within a matter of months” to install CCTV cameras at “critical animal welfare points”.

“No doubt the next step would be looking at legislation to make sure that is fully enforceable as well,” he said.

The inquiry’s report, announced in October, was made public on Monday and made 55 recommendations that the state government supports in full, or in principle.

Opposition racing spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said he did not trust the government would act on the inquiry’s report and said the government was yet to implement all 15 recommendations from a 2015 inquiry into greyhound racing.

Read on »

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Queensland Equine Inquiry Report near completion

A horse cast off by the Thoroughbred racing industry awaits slaughter for human consumption at the Meramist Abattoir in Queenland, Australia.

A report following the inquiry into equine welfare in Queensland could be released as early as this week.

Former District Court Judge Terry Martin chaired the inquiry which was instigated by the state government after a story by the ABC’s 7.30 Report in October.

The story highlighted the issue of managing the retirement of racehorses and pinpointed animal slaughter at the Meramist Abattoir at Caboolture in Queensland.

The inquiry was chartered to review the regulatory and oversight arrangements of abattoirs in Queensland.

It further looked at the management of retired racehorses in Queensland, including horses moved from interstate.

Judge Martin SC was supported by equine veterinary surgeon Dr Peter Reid.

The inquiry heard from a number of stakeholders and also took written submissions.

It is understood the report is ready for release within days.


Australian racehorse slaughter allegations prompt investigation, Oct. 18, 2019

FEATURED IMAGE: A horse cast off by the Thoroughbred racing industry awaits slaughter for human consumption at the Meramist Abattoir in Queenland, Australia. The Morning Bulletin.

Aussie racehorse kill buyer speaks out

An image from ABC's 7.30 program showing a horse being killed at a Queensland knackery. CREDIT:ABC

by Chip Legrand
Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Oct 2019

“Peter Loffel is the face of horse racing’s unpalatable truth.

“He is known as a kill buyer, although he prefers the term horse trader. He buys horses no one wants and trucks them to a place no horse wants to end up – the Meramist abattoir featured in last week’s 7.30 expose on ABC.

“The horses he buys are nearly all retired racehorses or trotters, he tells The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. He says he buys most of his gallopers direct from trainers, licensed participants in an industry which has spent the past four days claiming it has no idea so many thoroughbreds are sent to abattoirs.

‘Most of them are some sort of racehorse. We don’t buy people’s riding horses or saddle horses.’

“If what Loffel says is true, the industry’s claim that horses are being slaughtered beyond their sight is bunk; any trainer who sells a horse to Loffel knows exactly where [he] is going.

“The kill buying business is not complicated. Loffel buys some horses from auctions, but most of them he picks up cheaply from trainers and breeders.” Continue reading »


In addition to the hundreds and thousands of horses racing kills on U.S. racetracks, they send hundreds and thousands of racehorses across our borders to be mercilessly killed for their meat in Canada and Mexico. And it’s just as brutal and terrifying as anything shown in the undercover investigation that has shaken the people of Oz and everywhere else it has been seen.

You can’t help Australia’s racehorses but you can help American racehorses. Take action today on behalf of our racehorses by asking your U.S. Representative to cosponsor the anti horse slaughter bill, H.R.961. If they already have, contact your two U.S. Senators and ask them to cosponsor its companion bill, S.2006Go here for tips and guidelines to ensure your success »


Australian racehorse slaughter allegations prompt investigation »


Lifetime guarantee to save horses from slaughter »
Ian Smith, the owner of Edinburgh Park Stud, says that if anyone owns one of his horses and can no longer keep it, he’ll pay $1000 to take it back so it won’t share the fate of those animals graphically featured in last week’s ABC 7.30 program.

Horse racing on the nose, industry insiders warn »
Influential racing figures are bracing for the fallout from the horse slaughter scandal to impact on the remaining spring carnival and beyond unless racing authorities can restore public trust in how thoroughbreds are treated after they retire from the sport.

How is horse racing cruel? »
A recent investigation puts animal welfare in the spotlight while activists have been saying horse-racing is cruel for years – but exactly how? And what do the industry and experts say in response?