Greyhound racing industry in turmoil again asanimal welfare crimes continue despite promises to reform
Recent media reports about whistleblower Charlie Wilson have again turned the greyhound racing industry into chaos as further allegations of drugging and death threats have surfaced, yet again. The greyhound trainer has claimed he spent the past few months breaking into a number of properties in Victoria to install surveillance cameras collecting footage of greyhound drugging for use by welfare group Animals Australia and the ABC’s Four Corners program. This was prompted by his anger at the industry after purchasing two greyhounds for $100,000 which turned out to be duds.
The ABC’s Four Corners expose into live baiting in February 2015 prompted the NSW Government to undertake a Special Commission of Inquiry into the industry, resulting with the industry ban in the state. Humane Society International (HSI) Australia were shocked to hear in October that NSW Premier Mike Baird decided to backflip on the decision after concluding the industry were highly motivated and capable of reform. However, it seems that this may not be the case.
Further news reports last week revealed that NSW greyhound trainer, Gareth Miggins, was cleared of allegedly ripping off the tip of his greyhound’s damaged tail to avoid the veterinary fees of amputation, despite strong evidence from the on-track vet and steward. Another trainer, Robert Newstead, was caught on video allegedly using a cattle prod on his greyhound to make it run faster but is unlikely to face criminal charges. Meanwhile, Victoria’s Mr Wilson admitted to doping his own dog with performance agent EPO “to show how easy it is”. All of these stories point to the fact that the greyhound racing industry is far from reform and they are not being appropriately penalised, lacking any incentive to do the right thing.
Earlier this month HSI called for the introduction of sniffer dogs at every NSW track to crackdown on drug use at greyhound races throughout the state. Premier Baird and Morris Iemma, who heads the newly created Greyhound Industry Reform Panel, have been informed about the initiative. HSI’s Program Manager for Animal Welfare, Georgie Dolphin said, “When a positive swab is detected these cases are normally presented to the industry body ‘Greyhound Racing New South Wales’ following a race, but HSI discovered that these cases are not automatically referred on to the NSW Police or judicial system, representing a serious loophole. Everyone is used to routinely being searched at airports and sometimes at major public events, so the introduction of sniffer dogs at each race meeting makes perfect sense and would help to protect all the trainers who are doing the right thing. The use of sniffer dogs could also help reassure the Australian public that concerted efforts were being made by the state government to pull the industry into line.”
More than 85% of NSW residents supported the greyhound racing ban and now that Premier Baird has back flipped, their tax dollars will continue to fund this cruel industry. Just days prior to the ban announcement the state government had allocated $22 million dollars to the greyhound racing industry in tax breaks over the next 4 years. HSI’s Ms Dolphin concluded, “If this plan is back on the table, then the Australian public need to be informed. The spotlight is once again shining on this industry which is riddled with inhumane practices and an outpouring of public opposition. The majority of Australians don’t want their money to support an industry steeped in cruelty and crime. If they are determined to continue then they should stand on their own two feet.”