Greyhound racing industry backs down on reform promises
just days after Baird’s ban backflip
Despite strong support from the majority of people in New South Wales and the ACT, last week NSW Premier Mike Baird announced the controversial reversal of the greyhound racing ban which was set to prohibit the ‘sport’ from 1st July next year. The decision was largely based on advice from Dr John Keniry AM who headed the government’s Greyhounds Transition Taskforce and advised Baird that the industry now had a deep appetite for change.
Humane Society International (HSI) was shocked by the announcement that the ban will be reversed based on the belief that the industry is determined to reform. They have had the opportunity before, yet still they continue to put animals at risk every day. HSI’s Program Manager for Animal Welfare, Georgie Stewart said, “Just since the reversal of the greyhound racing ban by the Premier last week another five dogs have been euthanised after being injured during races. The industry were quick to put forward measures to reform before the reversal, but as soon as it’s business as usual they’re back to their old ways, backing away from false promises.”
The newly established Greyhound Industry Reform Panel chaired by former Labor Premier Morris Iemma is formulating a new regime to ensure strict standards of animal welfare in the industry, giving participants one last chance to reform. They are looking to incorporate a suite of principles put forward by the greyhound industry in an action plan unveiled in August. These included a total life-cycle management plan as well as strict breeding caps that limit breeding to 2,000 dogs each year, and a $1,500 bond for every greyhound bred. Another guarantee put forward by the industry was a zero tolerance for animal cruelty and live baiting, with a lifetime ban for any infringement. A commitment was also made to provide the most stringent, safest racing environment to eliminate avoidable injury.
The Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association originally floated these guarantees in August, but has already moved to distance itself from the breeding cap of 2,000, arguing that more modelling is needed before an appropriate figure can be reached. The Association explained that a controlled breeding program needs to have a national focus and are now calling for their planning needs to be between two and five years ahead.
Prior to the ban, Greyhound Racing NSW were considering closing 19 non-TAB tracks in response to a drop in the sport’s popularity, cutting tracks from 34 to between 8 and 14 ‘centres of excellence’. This move is now being hotly contested and industry participant Robert Borsak has called for no forced track closures without local community support.
Despite the huge media attention since Baird’s Facebook post saying greyhound racing would be banned, the shocking practice of using live animals as bait to train the dogs still continues. Only last week a NSW greyhound owner and trainer faced court for allegedly recording videos of using rabbits as bait last August. HSI’s Ms Stewart continued, “No level of monitoring will stamp out live baiting when it is taking place on private properties, and those who know about it either don’t care or are too scared to report it. An industry that is so steeped in lies and corruption cannot change, and this is reflected in the global change which has seen the ‘sport’ being gradually stamped out around the world.”
The industry has had one chance too many, and it’s time for the Premier to step in and put an end to this outdated and unnecessary animal cruelty. We call on him to listen to the more than one million people in NSW that belong to groups that care for and about animals, rather than those with a vested interest in cruelty.