Dog racing for SA?

2014-06-24 08:44

Dog racing has been put back on South Africa’s gambling agenda just three years after the government decided to abandon the idea, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has said.

In May, the trade and industry department tabled a new draft National Gambling Norms and Standards bill in the Government Gazette, said IFAW Southern Africa companion animal adviser, Cora Bailey yesterday.

The bill included dog racing as part of a proposed suite of gambling activities.

“What can have possibly changed since 2011 when the department ... backed down from the idea of greyhound racing?” asked Bailey.

“Then, and despite a massive lobby by the pro-racing fraternity, they responded positively to overwhelming evidence of the cruelty and welfare concerns related to dog fighting.

“This was not to mention the financial implications for gamblers.”

She said that since then, nothing had changed regarding the welfare of dogs in disadvantaged communities or for the people they lived with.

“It’s not just the dogs that suffer, but the financial situation for people in these communities is dire and will only become worse if greyhound racing is approved,” because it would lead to illegal racing and illicit gambling.

The IFAW believed legalising greyhound racing would only worsen an already out-of-control animal welfare crisis in South Africa.

It had submitted its concerns to the government.

IFAW Southern Africa director Jason Bell said: “The fact is, South African authorities don’t have the laws or the manpower to manage illegal activities such as dog fighting and puppy mills.”

Such tasks were left to animal welfare nongovernmental organisations to sort out, which were already overwhelmed, and under these circumstances it was inexplicable how the government would even consider legalising greyhound racing, he said.

The reintroduction of greyhound racing under the poor socioeconomic conditions that affected much of South Africa would lead the dogs to be seen as expendable commodities.

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