News: NSW announces shock greyhound racing ban from July 2017

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Updated: July 7, 2016

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In a stunning announcement, the New South Wales government will ban greyhound racing in the state from July 1, 2017. It is the first state to do so in Australia. “In response to widespread illegal and unconscionable activity, including the slaughtering of tens of thousands of dogs, I can today announce that NSW is putting an end to greyhound racing,” Premier Mike Baird said in a statement.

The ban follows an inquiry into the industry, prompted by reports of widespread animal cruelty. The inquiry, conducted by former High Court Judge Michael McHugh, found that over the past 12 years, there had been somewhere between 48,891 and 68,488 dogs killed in NSW “because they were considered too slow to pay their way” or “were unsuitable for racing.”

 

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The industry term for these animals was “wastage,” despite the dogs being otherwise healthy, the inquiry found. In addition to animal slaughter, the practice of “live baiting,” though illegal, was found to be widespread, where animals such as rabbits would be chased and killed by dogs in training sessions. “The industry is not capable, in the short or medium term, of reforming,” the inquiry found.

Equally damning, the commission concluded “Greyhound Racing NSW had adopted a policy of deliberately misreporting the extent of injuries suffered by greyhounds at the racetracks,” and an estimated 180 dogs per year suffered “catastrophic,” usually fatal injuries such as skull fractures and broken backs. The news means more than 1000 jobs are set to be axed.

Currently there are nearly 6000 registered greyhound owners across the state.  But the State Government believes the economic loss and greyhound racing’s role as an “important part of the social fabric of regional towns,” does not outweigh the moral imperative to act. “Over the coming months, we will consult with the industry to help minimise the pain as best we can for the innocent industry participants,” Mr Baird (pictured below) said.

 

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“We will develop a strategy to work with the RSPCA to manage the welfare of existing greyhounds. And the transition arrangement for Greyhound Racing NSW assets (like greyhound racing tracks) will ensure they are used for open public space, alternative sports facilities or other community use,” he said.  Mr Baird said he empathised with innocent trainers and those set to lose their livelihoods, as well as acknowledged the disappointment of people who liked to have a punt on greyhound racing.

Greyhound racing has been immediately suspended for the next seven days in NSW. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said his jurisdiction would also ban the greyhound racing industry in Canberra saying it has turned a blind eye to animal cruelty for too long. Mr Barr, who is in New Zealand on a trade mission, said it had become untenable for the government to continue allowing and financially supporting greyhound racing.

Greyhound Racing NSW said they had taken decisive action to recover community trust in the wake of revelations of live-baiting and other cruel practices. “Today is an extremely sad day for the NSW greyhound racing industry and the people involved in it. Around our state there are many thousands of responsible participants who treat their greyhounds like family who are involved in the greyhound racing industry either through training, racing or supporting the sport,” a GRNSW spokesman said in a statement.

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