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Greyhound racing has been a hot topic of debate since a Four Corners report surfaced in 2015, uncovering live baiting and animal cruelty within the industry. The investigation exposed ‘secret training sessions’ in which live piglets, possums and other animals were tied to lures and used as bait for greyhounds to chase. These animals were not only propelled around racing tracks, but were also repeatedly mauled, and eventually killed by greyhounds. This practice is outlawed in Australia, yet greyhound trainers have been illegally using these methods in the belief it will strengthen their dog’s racing ability. Four Corners managed to covertly film the illegal acts on a number of Australian properties, exposing the involvement of many greyhound owners and trainers. The shocking discovery caused uproar in not only the racing community, but more so by the public.
In the aftermath of the report, over 150,000 people signed a petition addressed to the Australian Government stating that they will not tolerate this cruelty within the industry. Multiple government inquiries were also launched to further investigate the racing industry. These inquiries led to even further evidence of cruelty being revealed. Many Australians spoke out to ban greyhound racing altogether, with national ‘Shut It Down’ rallies being held in numerous Australian cities.
Animals Australia confirm that the Australian Government invests millions of dollars every year by spending money on infrastructure, breeding incentives and appearance fees. These investments are tax-payer funded and allow the greyhound racing industry to develop and create further revenue. In return, the government makes money through gambling taxes which are generated from each bet placed on a race. An estimated AU$4 billion is wagered through bets each year, including all of those placed on greyhound races. This can be seen as the key reason money is invested in the first place (Animals Australia, 2015).
On July 7th, 2016, NSW Premier Mike Baird announced that greyhound racing would be banned in New South Wales from July 2017. This decision was based not only on the findings of the Four Corners report, but also additional evidence found during the subsequent inquiries. More than 30 greyhound trainers were charged with animal cruelty related offences. Many other trainers were also suspended from greyhound racing, some even receiving life bans for their involvement in live-baiting (ABC, 2016). Mr Baird made it clear in his speech that there were only two options left – let the secrecy and illegal practices continue within the industry, or ban the sport altogether.
Since the NSW ban, the ACT have followed suit and declared they will also be banning the sport. All other Australian states and territories are yet to carry out a ban. Queensland has expressly stated that they will not ban greyhound racing, as they claim those who broke the rules have now been prosecuted (ABC News, 2016).
Reason Kennels Rob Tyler believes these acts of live-baiting and animal cruelty shouldn’t diminish the racing industry altogether; “Punters in clubs, pubs and TABs as well as those sitting on their lounges have their few investments each day and night, enjoying their racing and trying to back a winner. As the ad used to say, “It’s as Australian as meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars”.
Campaign Director of Animals Australia Lyn White believes greyhound racing should be banned completely in Australia. Ms White stated that greyhound racing is an extremely cruel sport which puts financial gain above animal welfare.
The 2015-2016 Special Commissions of Inquiry report found that between 48,000-68,000 greyhounds were killed in the last 12 years in NSW alone, falling victim to the greyhound industry simply because “they were deemed uncompetitive” (The Daily Telegraph, 2016). Animals Australia estimate five greyhounds are killed on the race track each week, and an additional 200 dogs are reported with injuries sustained from racing. Often, even if these injuries are easily treatable by a vet, the dog is killed anyway due to having “served their (racing) purpose” (Animals Australia, 2015).
Greyhound adoption groups exist in Australia to help save the greyhounds that have been spared their life, and instead abandoned or surrendered by the industry. Friends of the Hound (FOTH) President Lisa White claims that most greyhounds that are saved and then adopted out by FOTH were surrendered by owners and trainers within the greyhound racing industry. Operating since 2003, FOTH has now saved around 1200 greyhounds, re-homing them as loving family companions. The fight for these dogs is real and will continue until every state makes the decision to ban greyhound racing.
You can do your part to adopt retired racers and support the organisations who give shelters, food and medical attention to these animals. Please visit Friends of the Hound – link below.