Exports of Australian racing greyhounds to the United States have been suspended amid concerns the dogs are ending up in China’s burgeoning underground industry.
The suspension may be extended to other countries if the peak greyhound racing body discovers exporters are using approved jurisdictions to get around a ban on sending the dogs to China and Macau.
Greyhounds Australasia will not issue greyhound passports to the US for up to six months while it reviews the scheme, which allows registered greyhound participants to export the dogs to jurisdictions that meet Australian animal welfare standards.
Exports of Australian racing greyhounds to the US have been suspended (stock image)
CEO Scott Parker says state greyhound racing bodies have information that some exporters are using the US as a provisional destination for dogs that end up in China, where the industry is unregulated and operates on private property.
‘We’ve got some intelligence to suggest that they’re using the United States in small numbers but we’re sufficiently alarmed by it that we’ve called this review and we’ll be suspending US passports for the time being,’ Mr Parker said on Friday.
‘That might expand as we find more information.’
Mr Parker says the numbers involved are small and do not amount to hundreds or even tens of dogs, but even one case of someone subverting the rules of racing is enough.
‘Where a dog purported to be living out its life either as a pet, a racer or a breeder in the US has found its way to China, that’s enough.’
He said reports of Australian greyhounds being forced to race cheetahs at a Shanghai wildlife park had not been verified but concerns remained over the lack of animal welfare regulations in China.
Australian greyhound exports have halved since late 2015 following publicity about dogs being kept in appalling conditions in Asia.
The suspension comes after authorities found the dogs being sent to China and Macau instead (stock image)
Fifty greyhounds were exported to China and 200 to Macau in 2015 but that has fallen to virtually nil, at least officially, after major international airlines refused to transport them.
Mr Parker said GA had lobbied the federal government to close an export loophole by making its passport system mandatory.
RSPCA Australia senior policy officer Dr Jed Goodfellow welcomed the US suspension but called on GA to extend it to a complete and permanent ban on all exports of greyhounds for racing.
He says the RSPCA opposes their export because it places dogs at significant risk of poor animal welfare, including the possibility of ending up in the dog meat trade.
Agriculture department figures show most of the 332 greyhounds exported last year were sent to New Zealand, with only one to China and eight to the US.
Greyhounds Australasia will not issue greyhound passports to the US for up to six months (stock image)