TWO more trainers have been caught up in the live baiting scandal after two live European rabbits were found during a raid on a property at Gilgandra in the north west of NSW on Wednesday.
David Harkin and Merle Clarke, both of whom are committee members of the Coonabarabran Greyhound Racing Club, have had their licenses suspended by Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) pending an an outcome of an inquiry into the discovery.
They have both been charged with a breach of GAR 86B, which relates to being in the possession of a live animal which is capable of being used as bait or as a lure in order to train greyhounds.
Subsequently, their greyhounds have been withdrawn from the meeting at Moree this Saturday and they will be unable to nominate and race any greyhounds until the conclusion of their inquiry.
If found guilty they both face a disqualification of 10 years unless a special circumstance exists.
Paul Newson, the interim CEO of GRNSW, said that it was imperative to suspend the licenses of Harkin and Clarke after the serious discovery.
“GRNSW has zero tolerance for animal mistreatment. Since instances of live baiting emerged earlier this year, GRNSW has focused attention on further strengthening its regulatory capability through increased investment in the areas of compliance, integrity and animal welfare,” Newson said.
“This week’s raid and subsequent action was a result of that increased focus on regulation, and GRNSW will continue to be proactive in this area to enforce our zero tolerance approach to acts of animal misconduct within the industry.”
The suspension of Harkin and Clarke takes the total number of NSW trainers implicated in the live baiting saga to 13 following on from the ABC’s Four Corners program titled ‘Making A Killing’, which exposed the practice of live baiting within the industry.
Since the program aired, GRNSW has made a raft of industry changes targeted towards animal welfare and integrity, including the introduction of an animal welfare levy from July 1, the abolishment of the popular Blue Paws breeding incentive scheme, the banning of any animal product for the use of training greyhounds and the establishment of a Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Hotline.
While the inquiries for the other 11 NSW participants are yet to be completed, life bans have been handed down in Queensland and Victoria to those found guilty of live baiting.
The most recent to be disqualified is Anthony Mills, who had previously been awarded a Ken Carr medal for his achievements throughout over 40 years in the greyhound industry.
Mills was found guilty on charges relating to live baiting on June 4, with the Victorian Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board (RADB) handing down their sentence earlier this week.