New South Wales to ban greyhound racing

A widespread live-baiting scandal that has swept across New South Wales, Australia has led to greyhound racing being banned from 1 July next year, after a transition period.

A special commission of inquiry found overwhelming evidence of animal cruelty, including mass greyhound killings and live baiting.

Mike Baird, Premier of New South Wales, listed a number of findings from the inquiry to support his decision to ban the sport.

  • Between 48,000–68,000 dogs were killed in past 12 years in NSW because they were too slow or otherwise unsuitable for racing.
  • Live baiting is widespread, with about 10–20 per cent of trainers engaged in the practice.
  • Greyhound Racing NSW had a policy of deliberately misreporting the number of dog deaths and injuries.
  • The industry is not capable of reforming over the short or medium term.

Mr Baird said the Government had received the report of the commission, conducted by former High Court judge Michael McHugh, and the findings were damning.

The ban comes after ABC’s Four Four Corners program exposed widespread and extreme animal cruelty and cheating through the use of live baiting in 2015, which is what led to the special investigation.

There are 6,809 registered greyhounds in NSW, which will need to be re-homed, transferred interstate or put down, the inquiry found.

“It’s not something that has been taken lightly. But when confronted with Justice McHugh’s report, I believe there is no other alternative,” said Baird.

There was an alternative recommendation put forward of extensive reform, including tighter regulation. But according to Baird there was a “very real risk” that live baiting would continue.

However, other states such as Victoria, South Australia and Queensland have responded by saying greyhound racing will not be banned in their states.

Baird described the evidence of animal cruelty heard by the commission as “chilling and horrific”.

As you will see when you go through the report, Mr McHugh has shone the light on an industry that has overseen the slaughter of tens of thousands of healthy dogs whose only crime was they weren’t fast enough.

Animals Australia’s Shantha Hamade described the announcement to ban the sport as “a courageous decision in line with the community expectation”.

“We are dealing with an that has happily been responsible for the slaughter of tens of thousands of dogs, healthy dogs each year and so – let’s not forget the drugging of dogs for performance enhancing reasons that goes on in this industry.”

However, the national Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association (GBOTA) are not prepared to take the decision to ban the sport without a fight.

The association has hired the former solicitor-general of Australia, barrister David Bennett, to head its legal battle and warns the issue could bring down the Baird government.

“We have tens of millions of dollars to put to this case to fight it,” the GBOTA spokesman and Dubbo Greyhound Club president Shayne Stiff said on Sunday.