Protests Mount Over Export of Racing Greyhounds to Korea
The Australian Financial Review published a 2,500-word article headlined "Running For Their Lives" May 30 that focused on the business of greyhound racing in Australia and on the mounting protest of the export of racing greyhounds to Korea, a country known for its consumption of dog meat. Korea was added to Australia's dog export list two years ago.
Melbourne-based Neil Brown, chief executive officer of the Australian and New Zealand Greyhound Association (ANZGA), the official registry for greyhounds bred for racing in Australia, told the Review, "Welfare concerns have always bubbled along in relation to dogs in Asia. But it was never as significant as when dogs began going to Korea. We now have a huge welfare issue on our hands; and we have had since the issue of eating dogs was highlighted by the World Cup in Seoul."
According to the article, the welfare issue received another kick along in April last year in the lead-up to the Seoul World Cup when an influx of foreign journalists uncovered an unsavoury whiff of dog stew that threatened to push soccer off the front page. One wag 'filed' a circulating email featuring the so-called half-time snack at the World Cup - a digitally created picture of a small dog standing in a roll with tomato sauce squirted down its back.
"Other less tongue-in-cheek reports claimed dogs were tortured before death, supposedly to soften their meat. Ever since, the local industry's peak body, ANZGA, has been bombarded with tearful reports of a new Korean dish - Aussie greyhound soup."
Betting in Korea and China is officially illegal and greyhound racing is a spectator sport. Greyhound breeder Mick Abbott, who has led the push for exporting greyhounds to Asia, predicts betting will eventually be legalized in these key markets, leading to increased trade and a bigger market for Australian expertise in establishing greyhound racing.
"That's one of the great side effects of exporting to Asia: it means dogs that would be 'euthanized' here get a second chance. They get two or three more years of life [spent] racing in Asia before they're put down."
According to figures from the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, 369 greyhounds were exported to Macau in 2001, 159 to China, 200 to Korea, three to Hong Kong, and five to Pakistan.
Brown said, "There's no concrete evidence of maltreatment of exported greyhounds," adding, "But it's true we cannot say for absolutely sure that we know everything that happens to these animals once they leave Australia."
"What's equally relevant is that we don't keep track of where dogs that have finished here end up," he said. "It's always been swept under the carpet. It's an unenviable task, but this organization will be considering who should take responsibility for the welfare of a greyhound bred for racing, from the time it's whelped right up to its end."
Brown said he is grappling with the welfare issue on a daily basis. ANZGA recently held an animal welfare conference in response to a protest demonstration outside Australia House in London last December by Greyhound Action International, based in Kidderminster, England. Brown said that if a proposed official visit in September to inspect conditions for greyhounds in Korea turns up evidence of cruelty, "We will consider recommending that the Federal Government ban further exports of dogs to Korea."
According to ANZGA figures, about 20,500 greyhounds were born in 2001, making Australia the world's third largest producer of racing dogs after the United States (32,000), and Ireland (23,000). It is estimated that 25 percent of Australian greyhound puppies born every year will never race. Neil Brown, CEO, ANZGA can be emailed at
Source: Australian Financial Review: Fiona Carruthers