RSPCA Australia has welcomed the release of the report of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Working Group (TAWWG) today, hailing it as a significant step forward and urging Racing Ministers, state and territory racing authorities and the broader thoroughbred industry to adopt its recommendations.
The TAWWG was established in February 2020 following revelations aired on the ABC’s 7.30 in October 2019 about the fate of ex-racing horses in abattoirs and knackeries.
RSPCA Australia Chief Scientist, Dr Bidda Jones AM, who is a member of the group, said the report was a long time coming but contains strong, positive and practical recommendations for improving the welfare of thoroughbreds.
“The Australian community knows and understands that horses in the racing industries are more than just commodities – they are sentient animals who deserve to be treated well throughout their entire life,” said Dr Jones.
“That’s why Australians were quite rightly appalled after the revelations aired on 7.30 in 2019, and called on governments and the industry in their tens of thousands, to take action.
“Unfortunately, the federated structure of racing administration in Australia has meant that, to date, a consistent national response to the issues raised in the program has been lacking.
“However, the TAWWG has taken this initiative, and after a long process and extensive consultation with industry participants, researchers and animal welfare groups, the RSPCA is very pleased to see this report and we support its recommendations.”
Dr Jones said that the report makes 46 recommendations, that should all be implemented without delay.
“The report recommends that the thoroughbred industry take responsibility and take all reasonable steps to ensure its horses have a good life, including after racing.
“To make this possible, the report recommends the establishment of an independent national body to drive improved outcomes for thoroughbreds at all stages of their lives – a move that the RSPCA wholeheartedly welcomes.
“It also recommends significant reforms to standards – including enforceable national standards for thoroughbred horses while in racing and breeding – and recommends governments develop national standards for all horses, not just thoroughbreds. While other species (like cattle and sheep) have enforceable national welfare standards, horses do not.
“Crucially, we’re also pleased to see a recommendation for a national traceability register for all horses, which identifies each horse individually along with their locations and owners. Such a register is key to having an effective welfare regime.
“The recommendations in this report have support from across the industry and from the RSPCA. The next step is for the recommendations to be adopted as soon as possible.
“We call on state and territory governments, and the racing industry, to accept these recommendations and work towards implementing them without delay. The industry must also realise that this sort of reform is the only way to maintain its social licence.
“As the title of the report makes clear, it’s the horses who are the most important participants in a race. That’s why safeguarding their welfare throughout their entire lives is crucial, and why we’re pleased to see this significant step today towards making that happen.”
The report can be viewed here.
Timeline of events:
October 2019 – ABC 7.30’s The Final Race highlights the fate of some ex-racing horses in Australia.
January 2020 – An independent inquiry into animal cruelty in the management of retired racehorses in Queensland delivers its report to the Queensland Government, and finds that the industry had failed to intervene to protect retired racehorses.
February 2020 – The Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Working Group (TAWWG) is established, with a mission to make recommendations to the industry to improve welfare outcomes for horses.
November 2021 – The TAWWG releases its final report and recommendations.