In February of 2015 the ABC program, Four Corners aired an expose on the practice of “live baiting” racing Greyhounds in New South Wales, Australia. Now, 17 months later, the scandal has led to a call for all Greyhound racing to be brought to an end in the state of NSW. A Special Commission of Inquiry announced the decision on June 30 and the ban will take effect on July 1, 2017.
“Live baiting” is the practice of tying live rabbits, piglets or possums to lures in order to encourage racing dogs to run faster. Footage of these incidents is available at the ABC link above, but due to its graphic and barbaric nature, we have opted not to include it here. The practice is not only horrific, it constitutes animal cruelty and is therefore illegal.
The Special Commission of Inquiry’s report found that “up to 20 percent of trainers engage in live baiting and 180 Greyhounds a year sustain catastrophic injuries during races, such as skull fractures and broken backs that resulted in their immediate deaths.” The report estimates that tens of thousands of dogs have been abused, neglected and killed throughout the long history of racing in NSW.
The report also states that between 48,000 and 68,000 Greyhounds in the NSW racing industry have been killed in just the past 12 years according to Premier Mike Baird. The dogs, specifically bred to live a life on the racetrack were put down after being deemed “uncompetitive.” In response to the shocking and tragic findings of the Commission, Baird told the Australian Daily Telegraph:
As a humane and responsible government, we are left with no acceptable course of action except to close this industry down.
Baird described the report as “chilling, confronting and horrific.”
The government plans to announce a “detailed industry shutdown plan” later this year that will include a plan for re-homing the existing racing dogs and an “adjustment package” for the humans currently working in the racing industry. Baird posted the following lengthy Facebook explanation regarding the impending shutdown:
Evidence in the Commission’s report shows that the government had two prior chances to address the inhumane practices of Greyhound racing, but opted not to act.
New South Wales is the first Australian state to call for a shutdown of Greyhound racing, but the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) plans to follow suit promptly. Commercial dog racing is already illegal in 40 US states and similar bans have been proposed and carried out all over the world.
17,500 greyhound pups are born in Australia each year. 40% of them will never run a single race, yet only 600 are currently re-homed through adoption programs. As of July 2017, the dogs currently housed at NSW’s 37 race tracks will have been adopted or placed with shelters and rescue groups in the hopes of finding a brighter future.
To learn more about Greyhound adoption in NSW, visit the Greyhound Adoption Program, NSW. To look into adopting a retired racing Greyhound in the US, try the National Greyhound Adoption Program or adoptagreyhound.org.
Featured Image via @Mark_Stewart/Instagram