It’s been an ‘open secret’ for decades. But without hard evidence, authorities were powerless to stop greyhound trainers from routinely tying animals to lures to be chased and mauled as ‘live bait’. Animals Australia and Animal Liberation Qld were determined to rectify this situation, and so began some of the most challenging cruelty investigations ever seen in Australia. Since then, raids have been conducted, inquiries launched, trainers suspended — and more.
As an Animals Australia supporter, here’s how you’ve helped achieve justice for the victims of greyhound racing:
Over 150,000 people have raised their voices for the victims of greyhound racing — signing the petition, sending letters to MPs, spreading the word that caring Australians will not tolerate cruelty in the name of ‘sport’.
Our evidence was used by the RSPCA in each state to obtain search warrants and conduct raids on properties. Evidence gathered in training facilities in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales has already implicated some 70 individuals — including leading trainers — in live baiting. Prosecutions are still pending for many trainers, and in Queensland a special taskforce involving Queensland police has been established to combat cruelty in the state.
Since the live baiting scandal, further animal welfare atrocities, systemic in the industry, have been exposed with at least three mass greyhound graves uncovered in Queensland and New South Wales.
To date, seventeen people have been charged with animal cruelty, with a further twenty-one banned for life (meaning they can never own or race a greyhound again), and many others have been suspended pending investigations.
More than 60 trainers across three states have been suspended so far, pending further investigations. Among them is one of Australia’s most successful trainers, a former steward, a former industry integrity manager and one of the most prolific pre-trainers of greyhounds in the country.
The industry is under unprecedented scrutiny at a government level with inquiries launched in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania. In Queensland, a police taskforce uncovered further damning evidence of cruelty, with the government inquiry leading to the sacking of all racing administrators. The state government also halted construction of a proposed new greyhound racing track in Logan, following the 4 Corners expose. Victoria is establishing an independent integrity body for all racing codes and abolishing breeding incentive schemes. In NSW, the special commission inquiry has powers similar to a royal commission which means witnesses can be compelled to give testimony, search warrants can be executed and the darkest corners of the industry can be scrutinised. Already, it’s heard damning industry admissions of widespread cruelty.
The WA and SA governments have both increased their maximum penalties and jail time for live baiting offences, with Greyhound Racing SA also announcing random inspections and aerial drone surveillance of training premises.
The message has been sent loud and clear that self-regulation has failed. The entire Greyhound Racing NSW board was sacked, as were racing administrators in QLD — including Greyhound Racing QLD’s CEO. The entire board of Greyhound Racing Victoria has also resigned, with its Chairman saying ‘I can no longer be satisfied that live baiting was restricted to the small band of immoral criminals’.
After Four Corners aired the results of our investigations, sponsors were inundated by public calls to distance themselves from greyhound racing. And they did. Companies such as Schweppes, Lion Nathan, Hyundai and Autobarn all withdrew support or asked franchisees to withdraw support.
Questionable greyhound racing practices are attracting unprecedented media coverage not only in Australia but internationally. Hundreds of articles have followed the Four Corners exposé. Leading commentators from news to sport to current affairs are questioning how these atrocities were covered up for so long and are calling for an end to greyhound racing.
Practices that should have long been deemed unacceptable are finally being addressed by industry bodies. With ‘live’ baiting already illegal, three states have now taken these bans a step further — to outlaw the use of dead animals on mechanical lures during training. Victoria will establish an independent integrity body for all racing codes, and dog breeding schemes in NSW and Victoria were ended. This immediately addresses another serious concern — how those animals (mainly rabbits) were being captured, confined and killed in the first place.
Believing that the widespread and systemic cruelty of greyhound racing is beyond reformative repair, NSW MP Dr John Kaye has gone a historic step further and introduced an Australian-first Bill to ban greyhound racing in NSW by 1 January, 2016. If supported, this Bill will dissolve Greyhound Racing NSW and use their assets to assist in the rehabilitation and re-homing of all greyhounds.
And this is just the beginning.
Cruelty once ignored and unchallenged has now been thrown into the national spotlight. Greyhound racing’s many victims now have a voice. From the piglets and possums terrorised to gain a ‘winning edge’ to the naturally gentle and affectionate dogs who are killed in their thousands — their only crime, not running fast enough …
The tide is turning for these animals. With your help, we are turning victims into ambassadors. And with your ongoing support we will end this cruelty once and for all.