Greyhound ban defended

By Tess Nichol, Warwick Church

Greyhound authorities have announced racing would resume in NSW tomorrow under increased surveillance and more security at the tracks. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Greyhound authorities have announced racing would resume in NSW tomorrow under increased surveillance and more security at the tracks. Photo / Brett Phibbs

New South Wales Premier Mike Baird has hit back at criticism from the grey-hound industry, calling some practices "horrific" and "inhumane".

As NSW greyhound industry heavyweights held crisis talks at Wentworth Park in Sydney, Baird said trainers were still livebaiting, even after the scandal was exposed last year.

"I'm a big advocate of small government that keeps out of your way, but that doesn't mean government stands back and allows cruelty to animals on a widespread scale," he posted on Facebook.

"My instinct on this, before the inquiry's report was handed down, was that we would find a way to reform this industry. But then I read the report. I didn't need to read it twice.

"There was nothing hasty about it, or this decision. If you read the report for yourself, you will see that the Government had little choice but to take this course of action."

Senior members of the Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association vowed to convince Deputy Premier Troy Grant and other National Party members to help overturn the ban, which will come into effect on July 1 next year.

Dubbo Greyhound Racing Club president Shayne Stiff said the industry would attack the decision in the courts and on the floor of Parliament.

"Hopefully Baird leaves it with Troy Grant and we can get a fair hearing with him," Stiff said.

"He's ruined the lives of thousands of people. Political action, legal action; any action we can take, we will."

Stiff also reacted strongly to accusations of livebaiting and the industry's inability to rehome thousands of greyhounds after they retire from the track: "That was in the past ... we've moved on from that."

Greyhound authorities have announced racing would resume in NSW tomorrow under increased surveillance, with an enhanced swabbing programme, more stewards and vet teams - and more security at the tracks.

One of the key vets to give evidence about some of the most shocking cases of cruelty towards greyhounds expressed "extreme surprise" at the controversial move to shut the industry down in NSW.

Leonie Finster, who raced grey-hounds between 1980 and 2000, was a key witness in the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in NSW.

Finster said Baird's decision had shocked her, although she couldn't see any other way to fix the problems.

"Whatever it is they do, there is a culture that you are never going to change," she said. "They haven't even included all the graphic detail. The industry has been in denial. They still practise methods that were the go in the 1960s."

Finster said she had come across shocking cases of mistreatment of greyhounds.

Some of the worst included the work of so-called "muscle men", untrained surgeons who would perform painful, "Depression-era" style treatments for injuries to the racing dogs.

New Zealand's greyhound racing body is defending the sport as it is practised here after the announcement it would be banned in New South Wales and the ACT after a livebaiting scandal.

news.com.au

Racing Dogs In Motion. Greyhound action at the Auckland Greyhound Club, Manukau, Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Racing Dogs In Motion. Greyhound action at the Auckland Greyhound Club, Manukau, Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

NZ dog scene 'fundamentally different'

Greyhound Racing New Zealand boss Phil Holden defended the sport, saying the racing industry here was "fundamentally different" to Australia and operated under a different regulatory framework.

"Unlike Australia, New Zealand has an independent body, the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU), which monitors dog racing, including undertaking kennel inspections, drug testing, race day attendance and investigations," he said.

"Greyhound Racing New Zealand works very closely with the RIU to ensure the safety and good treatment of all dogs in the industry. In recent years, significant steps have already been taken to improve greyhound welfare in New Zealand following our own independent review."

Animal welfare was taken extremely seriously by the New Zealand racing industry, he said.

"We were appalled by the findings of the special commission of inquiry into the NSW greyhound industry and we will continue to have zero tolerance for anyone in the New Zealand industry being involved in any of the practices identified in the Australian report."

Additional reporting from Tess Nichol

- news.com.au

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