As the year begins anew, the first greyhound has fallen. Hatrick is one of New Zealand's most notorious greyhound racetracks, for injuries and deaths. This week a fractured leg, a common, predictable injury. Perhaps this greyhound could have been rehabilitated, as many that die trackside have the potential to recover, but he would have become a risky investment. The money spent on saving his life could be spent buying and training a replacement.
The price is paid in blood, but not by the people who race dogs instead of working for a living. By the time this is published there may be another death at Hatrick, a different injury but the same grim outcome. There's no room for losers in the greyhound racing industry.
They are dying to entertain us.
This is the secret that hasn't got out to animal lovers, media, to animal welfare and rights groups. Secrecy is this industry's best friend. Even televised races leave broken greyhounds behind in a millisecond of camera movement. Gone, some not even knowing their own name, never been inside a house, nor loved like a regular dog.
Breeders puppy-mill greyhounds extensively, in hopes of breeding fast dogs. Even then he's only a winner for a day.
One key difference is that puppies born in puppy mills are intended to be welcomed into loving family homes, whereas most greyhounds are bred, brought and sold with all parties knowing if they don't perform they face lethal injection or bullet.
Halfway through their natural lives, all greyhounds are useless for racing, unless milled for puppies.
Killing dogs on raceday is not even the worst part. Worse is the culling of non-competitive dogs.
We are frequently contacted by former racing enthusiasts who are disturbed by the treatment of greyhounds, both on and off track.
The raceday deaths are easy to monitor, but it is the off-track slaughter that concerns us most.
Enthusiasts currently breed around 1000 greyhounds per year, and import over 300. GAP's annual report claims 600 adoptions over six years, so there are over a thousand of these beautiful animals cast aside annually, just so gambling addicted racing enthusiasts can win races.
They are running for their lives.
Some suggest unwanted greyhounds are privately adopted, so we checked council records across New Zealand.
Sadly, there are many thousands of missing greyhounds.
It is also suggested that many retired greyhounds are unregistered, but if retired into responsible loving homes, where fines and impounding are potential punishments for non-registration, then it's clear they are not unregistered.
They are dead and, in many cases, are in mass graves.
Racing enthusiasts typically don't register their dogs, and are happy to bludge off ratepayers regarding animal control costs.
Ask your councillors to make sure dog control are doing their job with regard to greyhounds.
This creates a paper trail, which helps greyhound advocacy.
Check the NZ racing websites' stewards reports, the admitted injuries and deaths; they are posted almost daily. Note race sponsors' names, on the website and at the track.
Make an effort to seek competitors.
Let them know you object to killing greyhounds for gambling and entertainment, and ask them how this promotes their brand.
I could write about violence, doping of dogs and other disturbing facets, and in time I will, because greyhounds are dying for all the wrong reasons, and it has to stop.
Please visit our website at http://greyhoundprotectionleague.org.nz/
Aaron Cross is a Wellington-based animal rights activist, former GAP volunteer, greyhound owner of three years and co-founder of the Greyhound Protection League of New Zealand. He is 36 and self-employed in the animation industry.