Is Greyhound Haven an animal rights organisation?
The short answer to this question is "no" but we feel it's important for the public to understand the difference between "animal rights" and "animal welfare" as the two are often confused.
"Animal rights, also known as animal liberation, is the idea that the most basic interests of non-human animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings.
"Animal welfare is the physical and psychological well-being of animals."
To sum these two definitions up, "animal rights" is the belief animals should never be used for sport, food, entertainment, scientific testing or consumer products (clothing, etc) whereas "animal welfare" is the understanding that animals will inevitably be used for human benefit but while alive, these animals should always be cared for appropriately with consideration made for both their physical and psychological health.
The animal rights movement has enjoyed considerable public support because (rather unfortunately) the public generally misunderstands the goals and contributions of animal rights groups (many animal rights groups actually oppose the keeping of cats and dogs as pets, while still soliciting and accepting donations from unwitting pet owners).
In contrast, volunteering in animal welfare is often guaranteed to be a painful, back-breaking job with little public support- most rescuers could fill at least a book or two with heartbreaking stories of the lives they tried to save.
As an animal welfare organisation, we feel that our work (while sometimes running counter to the ideals of those interested in animals rights) is very important and not only actually saves the lives of greyhounds (as opposed to just debating ideals and trying to garner public support) but also helps to educate the public. An educated public can then make decisions based not only on their own moral position but also accurate information that is not coloured by emotive language and graphic images of dead or dying animals.
What is Greyhound Haven's position on greyhound racing?
Being concerned only with the welfare of greyhounds (as opposed to ethical question of whether or not it is "right" to race greyhounds), our stance on racing is fairly simple. Provided the dogs are cared for properly, we do not actively oppose racing.
That said, given the numerous concerns regarding the current state of the Tasmanian racing industry and the welfare of the dogs involved, it is impossible for us to support racing as it stands. Greyhound Haven is and will always be willing to provide constructive input on how the racing industry cares for animals, however it is up to the organisations concerned to implement the changes required to make greyhound racing a sport that does minimal harm to the animals involved.
Another obvious issue with the racing industry is the number of animals bred, especially when compared to how few are offered for rehoming. While we can understand profits must be made, provisions also need to be made for the surplus dogs if racing is to move forward in terms of welfare.
A racing industry that conducts itself ethically and with transparency is an industry more likely to find the public support required to ensure the long-term survival of their sport. Very few involved in greyhound rescue wish to see racing abolished, simply conducted in a way that is sustainable without the destruction of large numbers of dogs being necessary.