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Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, has welcomed the Office of Racing Integrity coming clean on horse racing’s “inconvenient truth” – that horses are put to death and made into pet food because they don’t run fast enough.

ORI General Manager and Director of Racing John King called into ABC’s Leon Compton today and confirmed horse racing’s dirty secret – that 123 harness horses and 59 thoroughbreds were killed last year. He said it was the industry’s “inconvenient truth” that two, three and four-year old racehorses were shot in the head because they did not run fast enough.

Listen to Mr King’s interview here:

Mr Wilkie last week called for a welfare rule to crack down on owners slaughtering their unwanted racehorses without justification and chopping them up for dogfood, including in their backyards to save on abattoir fees. Mr King agreed that there should be a rule to require an owner to take all reasonable steps to find horses a good home when they retired from the track.

Mr Wilkie said the Racing Minister, Jane Howlett, must now publicly explain why she had dismissed his concerns as baseless, offensive and without fact. “Here’s your proof, Minister,” Mr Wilkie said. “Here is racing’s dirty little secret revealed by your own Director of Racing.”

“This is a ghastly circle of cruelty in the racing industry where animals that don’t run fast enough are killed. The horses that don’t run fast enough are fed to the dogs, and if the dogs don’t run fast enough, they’re often put to death if they can’t be rehomed.”

Mr Wilkie said Tasracing lost track of thoroughbreds and harness-racing horses once they retired and there was nothing to prevent owners from slaughtering them.

“Tasracing needs to improve its tracking of horses and introduce a welfare rule similar to the one for greyhounds which requires an owner to make all reasonable efforts to avoid euthanasia, which must be performed by a vet,” Mr Wilkie said. “If it’s good enough for dogs, it’s good enough for horses.”