Greyhound racing has been suspended in NSW for seven days, as shock waves ripple through the sport which the state government will ban from next year.
Greyhound Racing NSW said the decision to ban racing from July 1 next year would rock everyone involved with the sport. “Today is an extremely sad day for the NSW greyhound racing industry and the people involved in it,” a GRNSW spokesman said in a statement.
Premier Mike Baird announced earlier on Thursday the sport would be banned after releasing a report which found evidence of systemic animal cruelty within the industry.
Australia’s largest greyhound breeder and owner Paul Wheeler, who is based in Young in the state’s southwest, said he was in shock after the decision.
“There are thousands of people who have got millions invested in the industry in equipment, greyhounds, properties and mortgages and all those people have been driven to the wall,” Wheeler told the Australian Racing Greyhound website.
“It is very disappointing that a very small percentage of people have done the wrong thing, yet the government are punishing everyone.”
Wheeler said the ban would have far-reaching consequences and had the potential to affect other racing codes.
“There are going to be a lot of people out of work within the greyhound industry, but it is going to span much wider than that,” he said.
GRNSW said they had taken decisive action to recover community trust in the wake of revelations of live-baiting and other cruel practices.
“Around our state there are many thousands of responsible participants who treat their greyhounds like family who are involved in the greyhound racing industry either through training, racing or supporting the sport,” the spokesman said.
“These people were as dismayed as others by the exposure of completely unacceptable and inhumane practices within greyhound racing.
“That is why they supported the significant reforms made by Greyhound Racing NSW over the last 12 months.”
GRNSW said they fully co-operated with the Special Commission of Inquiry who delivered the damning report. They said they would continue to advocate and support GRNSW members as greyhound racing winds down across the state.