The state is working towards a ban from july 2017 after uncovering what they describe as “horrific” cruelty.”We are left with no acceptable course of action except to close this industry down,” Premier Mike Baird said. This emerged following an investigation and reports that animals such as rabbits and possums were being chased and killed in training sessions.
Four Australian states – NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania – subsequently launched inquiries into greyhound racing. In 2015 the NSW greyhound racing board stepped down after this illegal baiting was exposed in a TV documentary. This however was only the start. Mr Baird’s ruling came in response to the findings of a Special Commission of Inquiry, which were handed to the state government last week. The Inquiry found that in the last 12 years in NSW, between 49,000 and 68,000 dogs were killed because they weren’t considered quick enough to win races.
In recent years, the sport has enjoyed a resurgence across Australia. Prize money has sky-rocketed and betting is more than £2bn ($2.6bn) a year . This raises the question as to what will happen to the 20,000 racing greyhounds in this state alone. In the UK the Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare Trust that rehomes and socialises retired racing greyhounds expressed concerns earlier this year over the closure of a single greyhound track at Wimbledon and the potential influx of new greyhounds.
There is already huge debate over this banning with views expressed that jobs and livelihoods will be lost, however the australian RSPCA reported this as an immense day for animal welfare. Opinion is thus divided.
NSW has strong penalties for animal cruelty of five year jail sentences plus a $22,000 fine for individuals found guilty of animal cruelty.
However critics argue that there is little evidence of these penalties being enforced.
In the short term the learnings are:
- Animal cruelty is a crime and cannot be acceptable. Violators should be punished
- Greyhounds do make excellent pets and at least 75% can be socilaised to the extent of making re-homing possible. Education is further needed over how to adopt these beautiful dogs through trusts such as WGW in UK that do superb work.
- Banning greyhound racing may be an extreme reaction but it may be needed temporarily to identify and prevent the problems reported. Whether it is needed longer term remains to be seen