This natural tendency was widely put to use in Australia starting in the 1860s and continuing until live coursing was made illegal in 1985.
Since then, it appears the authorities have turned a blind eye to the fact some trainers within the sport still use live baiting as a method of training their greyhounds to chase the lure.
The live-baiting issue has burst back into the spotlight during the past week. Five properties were raided last week by the RSPCA in conjunction with the police in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales after Four Corners, which was working with Animals Australia and the Animal Liberation Queensland, presented the results of an investigation into greyhound racing to the state-based RSPCAs.
The raids have resulted in 23 people being stood down immediately, with desperate calls from the RSPCA and animal welfare groups to put an end to the sport. To make matters even worse, the industry’s darkest secret is set to be exposed on a gritty episode of the ABC’s Four Corners program titled “Making A Killing”.
The question that needs to be asked is how can the respective greyhound racing authorities have stood back for so long and let it continue? Surely they would have known the live-baiting problem still existed. Now it has been neglected for so long the RSPCA has dragged the industry’s skeletons out of the closet and into the spotlight for mainstream media and a horrified public audience to gawk at.
It is not good enough.
There is no denying it is a serious issue and GRNSW alone invested $1.3 million into welfare during the 2014 financial year – so shouldn’t this have been something that was investigated heavily?
How can authority bodies that are meant to be devoted to integrity and welfare be upstaged by outsider groups that have invested far less time and money before finding a much bigger problem?
Australian Racing Greyhound attempted to contact CEOs Brent Hogan (GRNSW) and Adam Wallish (GRV), to ask why proactive action had not been taken prior to the RSPCA and ABC jumping on board, but they were not willing to make additional comments relating to our questions.
Participants have the right to be angry. Not everyone does the wrong thing, but now everyone will be tarred with the same brush as headlines emerge left, right and centre that are essentially accusing the whole industry of being guilty of the actions of a few.
If the problem had been properly handled by the authorities earlier, surely it would not have spiralled out of control and into the public eye like it has.
One trainer expressed to me that live-baiting was comparable to drink-driving – even though some do it, they know it is wrong. If you get caught, bad luck, you deserve to be kicked out of the game.
People know they shouldn’t do it and so they deserve to get caught, but it shouldn’t have had to reach the stage where they are sprung by anti-racing groups. We have authority bodies for a reason, isn’t it time they started taking control of the sport they are supposed to manage? And shouldn’t they have been doing it without the pressure from the RSPCA and animal rights groups?
No matter what your view is on live baiting, I think we can all agree it would have been far better for the investigations to be handled ‘in-house’ by our authorities rather than having their hands forced and the industry’s image severely tarnished by groups whose main objective is to end greyhound racing.
Additionally, in a somewhat confusing turn of events, some tracks in New South Wales have also suspended finish-on trials. So now the perfectly humane and legal way to encourage dogs to chase has been taken away from trainers. Talk about mixed messages.
I love this industry and I want it to thrive, but it is naive to carry on thinking no one is doing the wrong thing. The authority bodies need to realise this and so do participants.
Although there may be tough times ahead, and it is certainly not something that I would ever like to see my cherished sport go through, perhaps this is the ammunition needed to incite the changes the industry so clearly needs to move forward to a bigger and brighter future.