LEADING Victorian greyhound veterinarian Dr Desmond Fegan has condemned the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) for backing the NSW State Government’s decision to ban greyhound racing.
The AVA is a professional organisation which represents veterinarians nationwide and has the vision of being the health and welfare leader in Australia’s animal industries, with one of the Association’s sub-branches being the Australian Greyhound Veterinarians Association (AGVA).
Despite many of its members working within the greyhound racing industry as on-track and specialist vets, the AVA released a statement last week declaring the peak body ‘supported the move by New South Wales to ban greyhound racing’ whilst also calling for the welfare of the dogs involved to be assured.
“There needs to be an adequate timeframe to appropriately phase out the industry while not compromising the welfare of the dogs. The veterinary profession is certainly willing to help these efforts and work with stakeholders,” said AVA spokesperson David Neck.
“We encourage families to consider rehoming a greyhound as they can make wonderful pets. No one wants to see greyhounds euthanased as a result of this decision, and we sincerely hope this can be avoided.”
However, Fegan said the AVA’s move to back the ban jeopardises the welfare of many greyhounds within the industry.
“It seems obvious to me that the Australian Veterinary Association have endorsed the move made by Mr Baird,” Fegan told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“I am led to believe that there was no consultation with its special interest group specifically for veterinarians interested in the racing greyhound (AGVA) before they made their announcement.
“I have now resigned from the AVA in protest, and feel their stance is tantamount to a death sentence for most of the racing greyhounds presently alive in New South Wales.”
Fegan said the Association’s approval was ill-informed, with little consideration for many good people within the sport, all whilst condoning the Premier’s stance that greyhounds were being ‘slaughtered’ by the industry.
“It also shows little understanding of the industry and its participants and all the associated enterprises that are heavily reliant on industry patronage to survive,” he said.
“I was particularly stung by their failure to rebuke Mr Baird for his inflammatory vocabulary, insinuating that greyhounds were “slaughtered” rather than humanely euthanised. It paints a picture of group of the uncivilised, doing the unthinkable, sanctioned by an uncaring profession.
“In reality many trainers have a number of their favourite dogs as pets earnestly try to get homes for all they can and I honestly believe not one of my clients has ever disposed of a dog in an inhumane way.
“There is no doubt that greyhound racing, like many areas of society, has its “bad eggs” and most people within the industry would like to see the back of them.
“However Justice McHugh’s report is blatantly biased and sets a standard for the greyhound industry that most other parts of society do not have to adhere to.
“The stance the AVA has taken means that it will have no choice but to condemn all forms of animal racing and most forms of farming. I wonder how their remaining members will react to that.”
Premier Mike Baird and Deputy Premier Troy Grant announced the ban on July 7, prior to the legislation going before parliament.
They have since faced heavy backlash from the media and wider community, with several state Nationals MPs speaking out in opposition.
While Baird is refusing to reconsider his stance, it is still unknown whether the government will have the numbers to pass the legislation which is set to appear before Parliament at the next meeting of the assembly on August 2.