Neath trainer Margaret Bright received a huge surprise recently when she saw a team of strangers jump over her fence and invade her property in the Hunter Valley NSW. Bright was just one target of a recent RSPCA and GRNSW ‘crackdown’ to bust alleged animal welfare issues within the sport. The search was reportedly one of three conducted in the area and has left local participants confused and irritated.
“On Monday morning I had people jumping my fence at quarter to six in the morning”, Margaret explained of the shocking situation, “I woke up and I just looked out the window to see what the weather was like and I had one guy in my front yard and one guy jumping my front fence”.
“I went to the door and they introduced themselves as RSPCA and GRNSW and I said ‘is there some problem? And they said, ‘We have had a complaint that there is live baiting conducted on this property at 5 o’clock every morning using possums, cats and rabbits’”.
“They went through everything. They checked all of my dogs, they asked me if I have any cats or rabbits and I said ‘yes, my brother has a pet cat called Jessie, my granddaughter has a pet rabbit called Arthur’ and I said ‘other than that no’. They went through everything- fridges, freezers, cupboards….you name it”
“He said he needed to inspect my entire property. He asked me every question under the sun. We had to follow them around the property, they went through every shed”.
Ultimately, the search revealed nothing but healthy and happy greyhounds. With everything in perfect order, Bright wants to know why it was not made public that the raids uncovered no mistreatment. With recent allegations that the industry is rife with cruelty, corruption and collusion, releasing a statement on their positive findings could help to repair and rebuild the tarnished image and reputation of the industry.
“At the end of the day everything was perfectly fine, but why don’t they say that we have inspected greyhound properties, we have found no mistreatment and no problems with it? That way the RSPCA is putting out there that they have won and that they are doing their job, but also that we are doing our jobs by everything being perfect”
“I asked were there any problems and if there was anything wrong and the RSPCA basically said to me that from every dog they saw on the property, there was not one dog that was in any bad condition. Their kennels were brilliant, everything was clean and they said ‘you can hold your head high’”.
“They have raided a few others and everything was fine but why don’t they say the positive things like that? The RSPCA have raided, visited whatever word they want to use and all the inspections have found that there is no mistreatment of the greyhounds. So why don’t they do that?”
The raids were conducted on Monday 14th October- the day before the ABC aired a controversial 7.30 Report that alleged a plethora of uncorroborated accusations from race fixing and doping to animal cruelty. The RSPCA took a high profile stance though spokesperson Jade Norris, who alleged that “40% of all greyhounds bred never make it to the racetrack”. There were also claims that over 17,000 dogs are euthanized each year because they are not fast enough to race. These baseless claims were left unsubstantiated with no clear evidence to support them.
It had been widely publicised prior to the 7:30 Report going to air that NSW greyhound racing was to be presented in a predominantly negative light. Given the RSPCA were actively involved in the development of the 7:30 Report story, and knew in advance of the allegations to be levelled against the industry; the question must be asked – Was the timing of the raids influenced or encouraged by the ABC’s 7:30 Report? Did the RSPCA seek to manufacture a high profile media event to secure higher ratings and consequently justify its own questionable allegations?
Either way, the outcomes of the raids conducted by GRNSW and the RSPCA failed to make it to the air on the 7:30 Report; a report that many feel presented a one-sided and narrow insight into the greyhound racing industry.
“As a trainer I feel it (7.30 report) was a one-sided misrepresentation of the greyhound industry. It was disgusting actually. They showed no positives of the greyhounds. For people to get on there and say they took a bitch and they were going to drown the pups, that’s just not called for. The other part, as a trainer, that I felt was bad was the actual fact that they showed the race at Wentworth Park. That should not have been allowed- they are one off incidents and that is not what greyhound racing is all about”, Bright said.
“I didn’t understand why it was so one-sided. The RSPCA sees cases of cruelty probably more-so in the domestic animal world than in the greyhound animal world. If you got the figures from the RSPCA as to many were born, how many were put-down and the cruelty cases that come through there- they would be way higher than the greyhound industry. They are putting it all onto us but their rate would be a hell of a lot higher”
“We have people rehoming such as GAP, the Belmont Vets and numerous other greyhound adoption organizations but it (the negative publicity) is detrimental to us rehoming them- people are not going to want them as pets because the industry has been portrayed in a bad light”
Australian Racing Greyhound contacted both GRNSW and the RSPCA for official comment in aftermath of the 7:30 Report, but neither organisation would provide an official response.
Australian Racing Greyhound contacted the RSPCA on a number of occasions by email and phone to comment on the factors behind the raids, the timing of the raids, and the outcomes; but the RSPCA failed to provide any information despite assurances to the contrary.