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Racing NSW End Of Life Welfare Program

In a further extension of Racing NSW’s existing equine welfare programs it was today announced that Racing NSW has established an End of Life Welfare Program to ensure that every NSW Thoroughbred horse has access to a free humane euthanasia service throughout its life in circumstances where a vet has certified that it is in the horse’s best interest and necessary on welfare or safety grounds.

Racing NSW Chairman Russell Balding AO, in announcing the initiative, emphasised that: “This End Of Life Welfare Program reiterates Racing NSW’s position that under no circumstances should a NSW Thoroughbred horse ever be sent to an abattoir or knackery.”

Mr Balding AO also added: “The vast majority of Thoroughbred owners both within and outside the racing industry ensure that their horses have the best possible welfare during and at the end of their lives. However, there is a cost involved in euthanising a horse which may have been a deterrent for owners to act in the best interests of the horse’s welfare. Accordingly, the End of Life Welfare Program removes the cost associated with euthanising a NSW Thoroughbred horse, further protecting the welfare of the horse right up until the end of its life.”

Euthanasia under the End of Life Welfare Program is only permitted where a Racing NSW licensed veterinarian has certified that it is necessary on genuine welfare or safety reasons in the best interests of the horse. As part of this free service to the owners of the horse, Racing NSW will also appropriately attend to the burial or cremation of the horse.

This End of Life Welfare Program applies to all Thoroughbred horses that have been predominately domiciled in NSW irrespective of age or when they retired from racing. Importantly, this captures horses after they have exited the racing industry who are in the ownership of members of the public as equestrian horses, paddock mates or trail riders for example.

Racing NSW has maintained an industry leading position on equine welfare via a number of groundbreaking and wide-ranging initiatives that have been continuously developing over a number of years. This End of Life Welfare Program is a further extension of these existing initiatives to ensure the welfare of NSW Thoroughbred horses through to the end of their lives. A summary of Racing NSW Equine Welfare Program is set out below:

• Racing NSW’s Equine Welfare Program is based on the principles that all Thoroughbred horses should be treated equally irrespective of success or ability, all should find a suitable new home following their racing careers and that under no circumstances should any be sent to an abattoir or knackery;
• Establishment of a direct retraining and rehoming program (employing 25 staff across 5 properties) for retired NSW Thoroughbreds since 2012, being the first state to introduce such a program;
• Commencing in 2016, a deduction of 1% of all prizemoney paid, totaling $2.6 million per year, to fund operational expenses of the welfare program, with Racing NSW being the first State to introduce such a fund;
• Introduction of Local Rule of Racing 114 in 2017 making it an offence to send a NSW Thoroughbred to an abattoir or knackery, with Racing NSW being the first and only State to introduce such a rule;
• Expenditure of more than $26 million (in addition to the 1% of prizemoney) on purchasing and developing properties for use in the care, retraining and rehoming of retired NSW Thoroughbred horses.
• Appointment of 2 full time Equine Welfare Veterinarians who, along with the Racing NSW Stewards, conduct audits and inspections of retired NSW Thoroughbreds right across the state to ensure that they are being appropriately cared for in their new homes;
• Introduction of an Excluded Persons List for any person, irrespective of their connection to the Thoroughbred Racing Industry, who Racing NSW consider unsuitable to be responsible for the aftercare of Thoroughbred horses. No NSW Racing Industry Participant can transfer, sell or gift a Thoroughbred to any person listed on the Excluded Persons List;
• Direct intervention by taking in, seizing and purchasing over 200 NSW Thoroughbred horses whose welfare is at risk, including purchasing such horses at interstate auctions who are identified as being at risk of ending up at an abattoir or knackery.
• Providing support by way of feed and veterinary care for Thoroughbreds where required due to financial hardship or difficulties associated with natural events such as drought, flooding or bushfires; and
• Joint ventures with a number of organisations such as BackTrack (program for at risk Indigenous youths), RSL LifeCare and Corrective Services NSW to provide equine therapy to persons in those programs while retraining retired thoroughbreds.

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