Grey­hound rac­ing banned in Can­berra af­ter re­ports of 'egre­gious' cru­elty

The Guardian Australia - - News - Christopher Knaus

Grey­hounds have been starved to death, shot, killed with ham­mers, and sub­jected to shock­ing ne­glect and cru­elty in the past year, de­spite in­tense scru­tiny on the in­dus­try.

One of the worst cases prompted a Vic­to­rian state reg­u­la­tor to warn con­tin­ued cru­elty in the in­dus­try was serv­ing to only “ad­vance the case of those who would seek to have grey­hound rac­ing banned”.

This week the Aus­tralian Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory be­came the first ju­ris­dic­tion to ban grey­hound rac­ing, push­ing ahead de­spite the NSW gov­ern­ment’s back­flip last Oc­to­ber.

In do­ing so, it cited a dis­turb­ing case in NSW in which a trainer killed a sick puppy by hitting it twice in the head with a ham­mer.

An­other puppy in the lit­ter had al­ready died and, in­stead of call­ing or vis­it­ing a vet, the trainer had de­cided to to use the ham­mer to end its suf­fer­ing. It was a pub­lic hol­i­day, and he had in­cor­rectly as­sumed a vet would not be open.

Ex­pert ev­i­dence to an in­quiry by the NSW reg­u­la­tor, Grey­hound Rac­ing NSW, found the pup was not likely to have died in­stantly af­ter the first strike.

“As a re­sult, the pup would have ex­pe­ri­enced un­nec­es­sary pain and suf­fer­ing,” Grey­hound Rac­ing NSW found.

The in­quiry panel deemed the method of killing had “no place in grey­hound rac­ing”, and barred the trainer from the in­dus­try for three years.

In April a NSW trainer was given a life ban for shoot­ing a dog, de­spite an or­der from the RSPCA to seek vet­eri­nary care.

An­other NSW trainer starved a grey­hound to death last year and was dis­qual­i­fied for 15 years and con­victed of crim­i­nal of­fences.

Ear­lier this month Vic­to­rian reg­u­la­tors ruled on what they de­scribed as an “egre­gious” case of an­i­mal cru­elty and ne­glect. It was de­scribed as one of the worst seen in sev­eral years.

In­spec­tors with the Vic­to­rian reg­u­la­tor, Grey­hound Rac­ing Victoria, vis­ited a prop­erty owned by a reg­is­tered breeder and trainer in May last year.

The trainer had five grey­hounds. The in­spec­tors were so dis­turbed by their state that they im­me­di­ately called the RSPCA for vet­eri­nary as­sis­tance.

The dogs were ema­ci­ated, had fly-bit­ten ears, open sores, and had been starved and sub­jected to un­nec­es­sary pain.

One was bleed­ing and would have died with­out in­ter­ven­tion.

An­other was in such a bad state the reg­u­la­tor said it was “hard to imag­ine” a worse case.

“There were fae­ces in his mouth which sug­gested he had con­sumed them out of hunger,” the reg­u­la­tor said. “He was ane­mic and was suf­fer­ing from Giar­dia. He had fly bite wounds and pres­sure sores.”

The trainer was handed a life ban and fined $25,000. The reg­u­la­tor was scathing.

“The ne­glect and cru­elty ex­hib­ited ... in the cur­rent case is the worst this board has seen in re­cent years,” it said in a judg­ment. “Be­hav­iour like that seen in this mat­ter can only ad­vance the case of those who would seek to have grey­hound rac­ing banned.”

The ACT at­tor­ney gen­eral, Gor­don Ram­say, said the ter­ri­tory’s de­ci­sion to ban grey­hound rac­ing was based on the NSW spe­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry, headed by Michael McHugh.

Ram­say said the ACT was in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to the NSW in­dus­try. Most an­i­mals who raced in the ACT came from NSW.

Ram­say cited the ham­mer eu­thana­sia case as ev­i­dence of con­tin­ued cru­elty in NSW.

“The on­go­ing ev­i­dence is that the in­dus­try is still deeply, deeply flawed,” he told the ABC.

“It is clearly an on­go­ing mat­ter, and it’s not some­thing that the ACT gov­ern­ment was will­ing to coun­te­nance that the risks that are so clearly there in NSW would come into the ACT.”

Le­gal ac­tion has been launched against the ACT gov­ern­ment’s ban, which will come into ef­fect in May.

The Aus­tralian Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory has banned grey­hound rac­ing and says the in­dus­try is deeply flawed. Pho­to­graph: Jonny Weeks for the Guardian

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