The fallout from NSW Premier Mike Baird’s announcement that greyhound racing will be banned as of July 1, 2017, continues to rattle those with a heavy investment in the sport.
Thousands of jobs will inevitably be lost from the $800 million a year industry with race tracks to close and trainers to be put out of business.
Mr Baird said the decision, announced last Thursday, July 7, with Deputy Premier and Minister for Racing, Troy Grant, was made based on ‘overwhelming’ evidence of systemic animal cruelty, including mass greyhound killings and live baiting.
“As a humane and responsible government, we are left with no acceptable course of action except to close this industry down,” Mr Baird said.
“This is the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from the appalling revelations in Michael McHugh’s report and his considered view that any other measures are unlikely to protect animals from further cruelty.”
Veteran Londonderry dog trainer, Alan Procter, who has been in the industry for 47 years and has 20 greyhounds, told the Weekender he feels Mr Baird’s decision is a ‘massive knee-jerk reaction’ to the issue at hand.
“The reform that has happened within the industry in the last 12 months has been unbelievable and it’s basically just been overlooked,” Mr Proctor said.
“We don’t have any dogs being euthanised, we have a great adoption program, several security measures in place, and regular check-ups by compliance officers who can just turn up whenever they like but it’s as if Mr Baird can’t see the bigger picture.”
“I’m very disappointed in Mike Baird and Troy Grant,” Mr Proctor’s wife, Christine, added.
Mr Baird and Mr Grant released the report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in NSW, which found that between 48,000 and 68,000 greyhounds – or at least half of all greyhounds bred to race – were killed in the past 12 years because they were deemed uncompetitive.
Penrith resident Daniel McKinnon, who co-owns a greyhound, said he can understand the resistance against the decision but feels something had to be done.
“Unfortunately an investigation with results like this tars the entire industry with the same brush and I don’t believe that’s the case here,” he told the Weekender.
“It’s obviously going to cost a lot of people and I completely understand the resistance to the decision but if the contents of the report are true, something definitely had to be done and some drastic action had to be taken.”
The report states up to 20 per cent 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.
RSPCA Australia is now pushing for a nation-wide ban on greyhound racing.
“It’s a great industry – it was being run so well in these last 12 months,” Mr Proctor said.
“It’s my lifestyle, it’s just what I do, I love my animals and I’m devastated.”
The State Opposition has vowed to fight the racing ban and will take the issue to the 2019 State Election.