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