Overwhelming evidence of systemic animal cruelty, including mass greyhound killings and live baiting has prompted the New South Wales government to become the first Australian state to shut down greyhound racing from July 2017.
Premier Mike Baird and Deputy Premier and Minister for Racing Troy Grant announced that the New South Wales Government is acting to protect animal welfare as a priority. For years, the ban is what animal welfare groups including Animals Australia and greyhound rescue organisations have been fighting for.
Mr Baird and Mr Grant released the report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in NSW, which found that at least half of all greyhounds bred to race in the past 12 years were killed because they were deemed uncompetitive, but that also that 20 per cent of trainers engage in live baiting and 180 greyhounds a year sustain ‘catastrophic injuries’ during races, such as skull fractures and broken backs that resulted in their immediate deaths.
‘This is an industry that has an inherent cultural acceptance of cruelty. Were inquiries like the one in New South Wales to be held in the other states, they would come to the same conclusion,’ says Animals Australia Chief Investigator, Lyn White.
Animals Australia says animal abuse is rife throughout the greyhound industry; not only through the appalling practice of live baiting, but also through putting to death thousands of healthy dogs every year. The organisation commends the Baird government for its decision to end greyhound racing in New South Wales.
‘It’s a brave decision but a right decision. We hope that other state governments will follow suit,’ says Ms White.
Inquiry Commissioner Michael McHugh has recommended Parliament considers whether the industry had lost its ‘social licence’ to operate and should be shut down. If the industry continued, his alterative recommendation is extensive reform including tighter regulation, but Mr McHugh stated there was a ‘very real risk’ that practices such as live baiting would continue.
‘As a humane and responsible Government, we are left with no acceptable course of action except to close this industry down,’ says Mr Baird. ‘This is the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from the appalling revelations in Mr McHugh’s report and his considered view that any other measures are unlikely to protect animals from further cruelty.’
The animal protection institute, Voiceless, says without the dedicated work of animal advocates, the media and key political figures, the culture of cruelty and widespread use of live baiting in the greyhound racing industry would have continued unchecked.
‘This process began with the ABC Four Corners report Making a Killing which reaffirms why undercover investigations are absolutely necessary in detecting and prosecuting animal cruelty in Australia,’ says Voiceless, Head of Communications, Elise Burgess.
This is huge news for the animal protection movement, and for the thousands of greyhounds who will be spared from this horrific industry
‘We know that in the last 12 years alone, somewhere between 48,891 and 68,448 dogs were killed because they were considered too slow. This is a damning insight into the “business” that is animal exploitation. Their deaths were unnecessary and unjustified,’ says Ms Burgess.
‘The level of cruelty within the greyhound industry has been overwhelming, for greyhounds and the animals tortured through horrific live baiting practices.’
Mr Baird said the Government will announce a detailed industry shutdown plan during the second half of 2016 following consultation with stakeholders in industry and animal welfare organisations.
The Commission of Inquiry’s report is available here.