Judgement day will come, but not just yet

IF LIVE baiting was not a lead story before, it certainly is now – and deservedly so.

The Sydney Morning Herald wrote three news pieces on Wednesday, including the editorial, although all were coloured by the paper’s left-leaning inclinations. The views of so-called reporter Natalie O’Brien were prominent. On this subject she has long been an opinion writer, not a reporter, and regularly acts as a mouthpiece for Greens MLC Dr John Kaye, an anti-greyhound campaigner whose views were roundly rejected by the rest of the Parliamentary Inquiry committee. “I told you so” is his current mantra, but it is a pointless one.

Nevertheless, public interest is massive, even if it is noisiest among anti-racing groups. This time they are quite justified in their disgust, as are the vast majority of greyhound fans and participants.

The subject is now being dumped into the laps of newly appointed task forces, whose brief and qualifications will be variable. Doing that three times in three different states also poses questions about consistency. Their initial value will be to ease the pressure on those really responsible – racing authorities in the same three states. Inevitably, time will pass slowly as they complete their circuits and write reports.

Consequently, let’s jump over the assumption of guilt or innocence and lay out those facts we do know – or some of them.

First, it is a terrible measure of the effectiveness of racing authorities that outsiders became the whistle-blowers, assisted (properly this time) by the ABC, about what is clearly a horrible practice in certain areas.

Second, that two well-known, well-advertised and widely used trial tracks, licensed by two different authorities, can be seen to have erred in such a glaring fashion is a terrible indictment of the inefficiency of the management and staff of those authorities. The odd early morning visit would surely not have been too much to ask for. After all, that is their routine duty, nothing exceptional about it.

Third, using animal baits has been around since “Judge’ Roy Swindell set up mechanical hare racing at Glebe in Sydney in 1927 (and no doubt before). In fact, he also used live hares in actual races, as well as a forerunner which chased a hare in front of the field (the hare had an escape hatch). Indeed, it was legal enough until live hare coursing was shut down at Rooty Hill and elsewhere after WW2. Unfortunately, using dead baits is not illegal for reasons which are hard to understand. After all, a dead bait can come only from a live one, whether road kill or not. That law must be changed.

Fourth, despite some emotional outbursts, there is no evidence that live baiting is a widespread practice. That is yet to be established. The same whistle-blowers, and the RSPCA, have long been doing the rounds of racetracks and kennels looking for ammunition to support a case against greyhound racing. No previous evidence of this sort has emerged. Dead baits, yes, but not live ones.

Fifth, the obvious shortcoming in the performance of stewards is not a new subject. For years now I have been writing about failures to properly assess such things as form, fighting and reporting of injuries, only to find the advice ignored but never refuted. The inference is that their training is inadequate, they are the wrong people or they are being managed the wrong way – something ICAC once identified in NSW. The “too busy” argument is a weak one, considering registered trial tracks are, or should be, a major part of their normal circuits.

Finally, let’s go to the editorial in the SMH, a reasonably influential publication (like it or not). The writer called for the shutdown of the entire industry, listing a range of mostly emotional reasons for that including the current disastrous events. But they also ignored some obvious related points.

The most significant of these is the fact that any animal breed is sustainable only if it is of general value to the larger community – either of itself or as part of the ecological chain. Greyhounds have persisted for more than 6000 years in a virtually pure form only because humans placed a high value on them. The same cannot be said for any other dog breed from dingos to labradoodles, some of which undergo serious genetic and sometimes debilitating changes as time passes.

Part of that underpinning is that greyhounds actually like to chase a prey. That is in their DNA, just as comparable qualities are present in other branches of the hound species. Without that opportunity the breed would fade away or be introduced to poodles and the like. Greyhound racing actually performs a major part in preserving that quality.

The editorial makes no attempt to put into perspective the huge number of abuses suffered by other dog breeds, mostly as household pets, but also in breeding establishments. These fill to overflowing the premises of the RSPCA and others. Once again, you can’t blame the dogs but you can call the owners to account. Regular incidents of savage attacks by certain dog breeds, sometimes on greyhounds themselves, sometimes on children, would also provide balance to the story.

But what of the greyhound itself? Two quotes are worth mentioning.

A study by the Anthrozoology Institute at the UK’s Southampton University examined 49 dog breeds and classified them according to their aggressiveness, reactivity and immaturity. Greyhounds found their way into the fifth of seven groups, described as “Low aggressiveness, low reactivity, low immaturity”. Even traditional family pets such as Retrievers and English Setters were found to be more aggressive than the greyhound.

Breeding experts are in no doubt of the greyhound’s disposition, and are well agreed on the pleasant demeanour displayed by the greyhound. The Standard Guide to Pure-Bred Dogs offers an excellent example:

“The greyhound has a wonderful temperament; friendly, refined, as gentle with children as he is affectionate with adults. It is remarkable that he has not become more popular as a house pet. His size is against him, though he curls up into a small space, and is quite wonderfully trainable.

“The greyhound is one of the few breeds that takes quite naturally to the lead, obeys commands usually without demur, and is easily handled by a child. It is being well-behaved that makes him a magnificent show dog. He stands like a statue in the ring, and a parade of these magnificent hounds in their varied colours, with their coats shining in the sunshine, is a fine sight.”

Meantime, a verdict on the industry should wait until the shouting dies down, investigations are complete, convictions are recorded and the offenders dismissed. After all, we have lots of murders in this country but that does not mean we should tag everyone as a potential murderer and shut down the whole society.

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FrankieMeyer
FrankieMeyer
6 years ago

Judgement Day  for illegal drugs in dogs grv backing trainer up  late for meeting on tuesday dogs all cleared to  race by stewards stuff the rules hey  one dog swabbed out of 4 winners they all should b swabbed  for illegal drugs grv u r so wrong for backing up this trainer

Todman
Todman
6 years ago

Rubbish you old Tory, dead baits, mainly rabbits should be banned you are a pompous idiot, using that stupid logic we have just lost our whole meat industry, chickens, cattle and every thing else is killed before we eat them, once they are dead no problem as long as they are humanely killed, not much thought went into that statement too preoccupied with having a swipe at a supposed leftie

HappyMutt
HappyMutt
6 years ago

Greyhound Racing in Australia should adopt New Zealand measures to return some integrity to the sport 1, Get rid of Private Training Tracks. Greyhound trials can only be done at greyhound tracks attended by an Official (s) 2, Random spots checks on trainers throughout each state by an official to the trainers property. The official to be   accompanied by a RSPCA officer. Any sign of live baiting the trainer is suspended. 3, More interaction with the RSCPA. This would look good to the public & keep a sense of well being towards the sport. Just some Ideas. Do not want… Read more »

Wascaly wabbit
Wascaly wabbit
6 years ago

Dead baits are RSPCA approved. Why should they be banned? Typical knee jerk reaction

AaronC_GPLNZ
6 years ago

HappyMutt I wouldn’t cite NZ as an example anytime soon.

AaronC_GPLNZ
6 years ago

Hey Bruce, you can’t polish a….. oh nevermind.

Dale Hogan
Dale Hogan
6 years ago

Starting to see the true puppet masters show there hands now.. This was politically backed motivated by hidden agendas that’s why none of this was brought directly to authorities it was left for months for them to build there story up first. I BET (pun intended) that if you asked John Kaye where he wants the funding money to go other than racing he’d not only tell you he’d have a whole budget written out already n waiting…

Darryl Armfield
Darryl Armfield
6 years ago

Calabrese gino are you saying all good trainers are cheats this is why they have picked on us because so many can wait to run someone down for winning a race

Dave O'Reilly
Dave O'Reilly
6 years ago

just fold…no coming back from that – get out while you can the game is up… just – like – that

Linda MB
Linda MB
6 years ago

Its not a frenzy…the truth is out…and not only was it cruel, the bastards were enjoying it

Todman
Todman
6 years ago

RSPCA et al, allowed this to continue just to sensationalise the topic, anyone else think this stinks?

HappyMutt
HappyMutt
6 years ago

We where talking about it in the pub tonight & yes that was the worse part about it. 
They where laughing about it
Animals couldnt run. The Bashing of the head of the baby opossum so thats it mother would wriggle
more on the lure, would be something thjat potential pshycotic murderers would do.

Adrian Peter Mackellar
Adrian Peter Mackellar
6 years ago

Stop right now

Mel
Mel
6 years ago

You sir have clearly written for a publication that requires critical analysis skills among it’s reaers, your analogies are absurd,  your logic absurd, your premise absurd, your straw man arguments utterly absurd.
The entire industry is based on animal abuse. Millions of dogs over the years slaughtered – equally brutual in too many cases for nought. Get out – the lot of you. Shut down the industry – it will happen and we all know it. There will be more abuses highlighted because the people haven’t changed. It’s inevitable. Time. That’s all that’s needed now.

Mel
Mel
6 years ago

You sir have clearly never written for a publication that requires critical
analysis skills among it’s readers, your analogies are absurd,  your
logic absurd, your premise absurd, your straw man arguments utterly
absurd.
The entire industry is based on animal abuse. Millions of
dogs over the years slaughtered – equally brutual in too many cases for
nought. Get out – the lot of you. Shut down the industry – it will
happen and we all know it. There will be more abuses highlighted because
the people haven’t changed. It’s inevitable. Time. That’s all that’s
needed now.

Mel
Mel
6 years ago

Todman that’s right blame the people that brought to you the facts. That is what is wrong with the members – that is why you receive such deserve vitriol. You and everyone else with this attitude remains complicit.

FrankieMeyer
FrankieMeyer
6 years ago

Judgement Day  for illegal drugs in dogs grv backing trainer up  late for meeting on tuesday dogs all cleared to  race by stewards stuff the rules hey  one dog swabbed out of 4 winners they all should b swabbed  for illegal drugs grv u r so wrong for backing up this trainer  

Todman
Todman
6 years ago

Rubbish you old Tory, dead baits, mainly rabbits should be banned you are a pompous idiot, using that stupid logic we have just lost our whole meat industry, chickens, cattle and every thing else is killed before we eat them, once they are dead no problem as long as they are humanely killed, not much thought went into that statement too preoccupied with having a swipe at a supposed leftie

HappyMutt
HappyMutt
6 years ago

Greyhound Racing in Australia should adopt New Zealand measures to return some integrity to the sport 1, Get rid of Private Training Tracks. Greyhound trials can only be done at greyhound tracks attended by an Official (s) 2, Random spots checks on trainers throughout each state by an official to the trainers property. The official to be  accompanied by a RSPCA officer. Any sign of live baiting the trainer is suspended. 3, More interaction with the RSCPA. This would look good to the public & keep a sense of well being towards the sport. Just some Ideas. Do not want to… Read more »

Wascaly wabbit
Wascaly wabbit
6 years ago

Dead baits are RSPCA approved. Why should they be banned? Typical knee jerk reaction

AaronC_GPLNZ
6 years ago

HappyMutt I wouldn’t cite NZ as an example anytime soon.

AaronC_GPLNZ
6 years ago

Hey Bruce, you can’t polish a….. oh nevermind.

Dale Hogan
Dale Hogan
6 years ago

Starting to see the true puppet masters show there hands now.. This was politically backed motivated by hidden agendas that’s why none of this was brought directly to authorities it was left for months for them to build there story up first. I BET (pun intended) that if you asked John Kaye where he wants the funding money to go other than racing he’d not only tell you he’d have a whole budget written out already n waiting…

Darryl Armfield
Darryl Armfield
6 years ago

Calabrese gino are you saying all good trainers are cheats this is why they have picked on us because so many can wait to run someone down for winning a race

Dave O'Reilly
Dave O'Reilly
6 years ago

just fold…no coming back from that – get out while you can the game is up… just – like – that

Linda MB
Linda MB
6 years ago

Its not a frenzy…the truth is out…and not only was it cruel, the bastards were enjoying it

Todman
Todman
6 years ago

RSPCA et al, allowed this to continue just to sensationalise the topic, anyone else think this stinks?

HappyMutt
HappyMutt
6 years ago

We where talking about it in the pub tonight & yes that was the worse part about it. 

They where laughing about it

The Bashing of the head of the baby opossum so that it’s mother would wriggle more on the lure, would be something that potential psychotic murderers would do.

Adrian Peter Mackellar
Adrian Peter Mackellar
6 years ago

Stop right now

Mel
Mel
6 years ago

You sir have clearly written for a publication that requires critical analysis skills among it’s reaers, your analogies are absurd,  your logic absurd, your premise absurd, your straw man arguments utterly absurd.

The entire industry is based on animal abuse. Millions of dogs over the years slaughtered – equally brutual in too many cases for nought. Get out – the lot of you. Shut down the industry – it will happen and we all know it. There will be more abuses highlighted because the people haven’t changed. It’s inevitable. Time. That’s all that’s needed now.

Mel
Mel
6 years ago

You sir have clearly never written for a publication that requires critical analysis skills among it’s readers, your analogies are absurd,  your logic absurd, your premise absurd, your straw man arguments utterly absurd.

The entire industry is based on animal abuse. Millions of dogs over the years slaughtered – equally brutual in too many cases for nought. Get out – the lot of you. Shut down the industry – it will happen and we all know it. There will be more abuses highlighted because the people haven’t changed. It’s inevitable. Time. That’s all that’s needed now.

Mel
Mel
6 years ago

Todman that’s right blame the people that brought to you the facts. That is what is wrong with the members – that is why you receive such deserve vitriol. You and everyone else with this attitude remains complicit.