RSPCA calls for review of greyhound racing laws after live baiting revelations

The RSPCA has called on state and territory governments to launch independent reviews of the laws in their greyhound industries after footage of animal cruelty during training was revealed on the ABC’s Four Corners.

The report on Monday night showed covert footage of some of Australia’s most prominent greyhound trainers using live pigs, rabbits and possums as bait to train greyhounds.

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“What we’ve seen on that footage last night is nothing short of disgraceful,” RSPCA NSW chief executive Steve Colman told ABC radio.

The RSPCA said criminal charges were imminent in some states, and trainers found guilty of live baiting could be jailed.

The Victorian government has announced an investigation into animal welfare and allegations of animal cruelty in the industry, while the NSW government said it would extend the time for submissions into a review of the Greyhound Racing Act in the light of the footage. The NSW government is overseeing a scheduled five-year statutory review of the Greyhound Racing Act 2009.

The new Queensland racing minister, Labor’s Bill Byrne, said he had sought urgent advice about what powers were open to him to eradicate the practice.

Byrne said he was appalled by what he saw and hoped “the mongrels involved in this would be facing the full consequence of their actions”.

He said Queensland laws were “more than adequate to deal with these acts of barbarism”.

“What’s needed is a clear understanding of how such things could happen given the regulatory framework that we have.”

Greyhound Racing NSW chief executive Brent Hogan said his organisation needed greater powers to stamp out animal cruelty.

“What we need to look at is the powers around surveillance and inspections –and we need to make sure those powers are sufficient to allow us to weed out activities of the type we saw last night,” he told ABC radio.

He hoped the trainers featured in the Four Corners report would be punished to the full extent of the law.

“There is no place whatsoever for animal cruelty of any kind in our sport. Animal cruelty is totally unacceptable and anyone found guilty of a cruelty offence is not welcome in the sport,” Hogan said in a statement.

The NSW minister for hospitality, gaming and racing, Troy Grant, said he was shocked and appalled by “absolutely abhorrent and distressing footage” revealed on Four Corners.

“Animal cruelty is unacceptable, and any person concerned about a breach should contact one of the enforcement agencies – RSPCA NSW, the Animal Welfare League NSW or NSW police,” Grant said in a statement on Tuesday.

The NSW opposition leader, Luke Foley, said he was “alarmed” by the revelations, but still wanted to give the greyhound industry a tax cut.

Speaking in Sydney on Tuesday, Foley called for an urgent, independent investigation to root out the “bad apples” in the industry, and urged life bans.

“It is offensive, it is inhumane, it is grotesque,” he said.

But he stood by his proposal to cut the tax payable by the NSW racing industry by 60% if elected on 28 March. Labor has pledged to cut the tax applied to every $100 wagered on racing from $3.22 to $1.28, bringing NSW into line with Victoria.

NSW Greens MP John Kaye said Greyhound Racing NSW should be broken up.

“Throughout last year’s NSW parliamentary inquiry, members of both the major parties bowed to political pressure from the dog racing industry and played down the animal welfare crisis. The time for cosying up to the Greyhound Racing NSW is now over,” he said in a statement.

Racing integrity commissioner Sal Perna and Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) will also investigate.

GRV chief executive Adam Wallish said the allegations were devastating for the industry and had already resulted in the suspension of 10 trainers on Friday.

He said anyone caught live baiting would face prosecution. “It’s abhorrent. We will move heaven and earth to make sure they are convicted,” he said on Fairfax Radio.

“We will be working very hard to ensure these people will no longer play a part in this sport,” he said.

The RSPCA has accused the industry of doing a poor job in regulating itself and has called for comprehensive, independent industry regulation and accountability.

Article taken from: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/feb/17/live-baiting-greyhouse-training-abhorrent-nsw-racing-minister

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