FIVE Queensland greyhound trainers were warned off for life at a dramatic Monday afternoon board meeting of the Queensland All Codes Racing Industry.
One more case has been adjourned and another has been referred back to Racing Queensland Stewards. In total 13 trainers have been suspended from training. Seven of those 13 have received show cause notices, with five of these trainers now banned following the revelations on the ABC’s Four Corners program on live baiting.
The TV show, which exposed the practise of live baiting within the greyhound racing industry, has created a public outcry with the fallout expected to continue for a lot longer. The program formed part of an investigation that included the RSPCA, Animals Australia and Animal Liberation Queensland wherein hidden cameras were put in place at the property of Tom Noble, catching several trainers and participants red-handed.
Seven of the 13 participants suspended were issued show cause notices on February 17, and asked to explain why they should not be warned off for life. They were: Debra Arnold, James Harding, Reg Kay, Tony McCabe, Tom Noble, Greg Stella and Michael Chapman.
On Monday evening, Queensland All Codes Racing Industry Board Chairman Kevin Dixon announced the board had decided the fate of those seven trainers after considering three written submissions and one verbal submission. The findings are as follows:
Legendary trainer Reg Kay as well as Debra Arnold both made written submissions as to why they should not be warned off, with the Board finding that they both failed to show cause as to why they should not be warned off. Therefore, it was decided that both Kay and Arnold would be warned off for life.
James Harding, Tony McCabe and Tom Noble did not make a submission after being given a show cause notice and all three were subsequently warned off.
Greg Stella made a verbal submission to the Board in response to his show cause notice and after consideration of the evidence and his submission it was decided the matter would be referred back to stewards for them to undertake an inquiry. Stella and his greyhounds are to remain suspended pending the steward’s investigation.
Finally, Michael Chapman made a written submission to the Board which became aware of further evidence they felt may be evidence that could be relevant to the consideration of his submission. The Board decided to adjourn his case to a later date.
The decision made by the Board means that the five warned off trainers will no longer be able to own, train or prepare any registered racing animal or attend any of the greyhound racecourses in Queensland.
Dixon said in a press statement the decision to warn off the five trainers was made after careful consideration of the submissions and evidence and due to the seriousness of the allegations.
“As a board we determined the actions of these individuals proved they should not be considered fit and proper persons to continue to be involved in the greyhound industry,” Dixon said.
“The conduct we saw from these people in the evidence provided to us is not only against the rules of greyhound racing, it is deplorable by its very nature.
“There is no place for anyone who engages in this type of conduct in the industry.”
Dixon also mentioned the greyhounds which are owned by these trainers will stay suspended from racing and will remain in the care of Racing Queensland.
The decisions come as Racing Queensland cracks down on ensuring a high standard of animal welfare within the industry. The authority has recently implemented a series of stringent measures to eradicate live-baiting from the industry such as the banning of all organic matter in the training of racing greyhounds.
“Racing Queensland has a zero-tolerance on animal cruelty and we remain firmly committed to ensuring anyone who engages in this type of behavior is no longer part of the industry,” Dixon said.
“The rule bans the use of any organic matter on a lure including blood, ensuring no animals are harmed for the purpose of training a greyhound.
“We have teams of stewards on the ground inspecting kennels for evidence of animal cruelty across the state and recording the data of dogs domiciled at each property.
“The greyhound industry has been challenged and it is up to the controlling body and the participants to ensure animal cruelty is eradicated from the industry.”
Racing Queensland has also put into place a new welfare and integrity levy on all greyhound prize money, breeding and subsidy schemes which is expected to raise $1.6 million annually.