THE greyhound industry has been stunned by raids by police and RSPCA officials in NSW, Victoria and Queensland in the past few days, targeting training and breaking-in establishments.
Allegations have emerged of live-baiting practices, with the raids following revelations by investigative program Four Corners. The ABC show is understood to have captured damning footage which is set to air on Monday night in an episode entitled Making A Killing.
A promo for the show says it is “a gritty investigation into the darkest secrets of the sport, exposing the gruesome underbelly of greyhound racing” and what it has uncovered threatens to change the sport forever.
It is another potential black eye for an industry reeling from recent suspensions to leading trainers and positive drug tests for substances including meth.
In the aftermath of the raids:
Both GRV and the RSPCA are conducting full investigations into the alleged activity.
GRV’s CEO Adam Wallish said in a statement the organisation does not condone the activity of live-baiting.
“The use of live bait in the training of greyhounds is disgusting and has no place in our sport,” he said. “Any person engaged in live baiting can expect to be disqualified and prosecuted. We have zero tolerance for these individuals.
“GRV takes matters of animal cruelty extremely seriously. Allegations of live-baiting are extremely disappointing and GRV supports the RSPCA and Victoria Police’s efforts to investigate any wrongdoing within the sport of greyhound racing.”
He added that if found guilty, those under investigation could face some serious charges.
“In accordance with GRV’s Animal Welfare Penalty Guidelines those responsible face a 10-year ban from the sport,” he said. “Live baiting is also a criminal offence punishable under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTA) and can attract a jail term of up to two years and a fine of more than $30,000.”
The Four Corners footage is understood to include people caught on hidden cameras engaging in the outlawed practice.
It is not the first time the sport has been put under the blowtorch by the ABC. In October 2013 the 7:30 Report attempted to tear down the industry, suggesting that it is rife with doping, corruption and animal welfare issues.
Similar raids were conducted on Hunter Valley properties around the same time of the controversial report, however these failed to find evidence of any wrongdoing by targeted greyhound participants.
GRNSW’s decision to stand down five participants was made due to the seriousness of the allegations and follows raids by RSPCA NSW and police in the Londonderry area. NSW chief steward Clint Bentley said in a statement: “While the investigations are only beginning, the allegations are of such a serious nature that we felt it imperative to suspend the five participants immediately.”
Licensed trainer John O’Brien was also stood down with immediate effect following a property inspection by GRNSW, after eight live European rabbits were allegedly found on his Congewai property.