The New South Wales (NSW) government has decided to ban greyhound racing, becoming the first state in the country to do so. The ban was enacted based on findings of a government inquiry which indicated evidence of extensive animal cruelty throughout the industry. Soon after NSW issued its ban, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) decided to follow suit and announced a ban for similar reasons.
In a statement, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said
“There is no future for this industry in the ACT. It is untenable for the ACT Government to continue allowing, and financially supporting the practice of greyhound racing.”
The NSW Premier Mike Baird said that the pervasive mistreatment suffered by the animals would not be tolerated and the government had no option but to shut the industry down. Baird stated that the inquiry report had found evidence of mass greyhound killings, live baiting and other forms of mistreatment of animals. He added that there seemed no possibility of reform in the industry either in the short term or over long term.
TV channel ABC’s program Four Corners had exposed the widespread and severe cruelty and ill-treatment involving in the use of live baiting to train greyhounds, which had triggered the inquiry. Braid has stated that the government will work with the greyhound industry during the process of shutting it down. There are currently 6,809 greyhounds registered in NSW, which would need to be either re-homed, transferred or put down.
Industry body Greyhound Racing NSW said that it was shocked by the decision, referring to the extensive efforts taken by the industry over the past years to improve all aspects of greyhound racing. It said that it had been working towards recovering community trust and had initiated strategic reforms, with animal welfare and integrity treated as key goals which it believed could have transformed the industry.
The ban in NSW is said to go into force from July 2017. The ACT government is yet to announce a timeline for its ban but is likely to be the same as NSW’s. Barr said that he would review the findings of the inquiry before finalizing the process of shutting down the industry in ACT.
According to the findings of the report, around 48,000 to 68,000 dogs have been slaughtered in the last 12 years in NSW alone. It has also found that almost 10–20 per cent of trainers’ use live baiting to train greyhounds, and that Greyhound Racing NSW had been actively misrepresenting the number of animal deaths and injuries.