Live bait claims rock Australian greyhound racing

2015-02-17 17:15
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Sydney – Australia's greyhound racing industry was in damage control on Tuesday after graphic secret footage showed live piglets, rabbits and possums used as bait to train some of the country's most successful dogs.

An Australian Broadcasting Corporation investigation showed the animals being fixed to mechanical lures before being chased and mauled to death during training sessions.

A lure is traditionally an artificial hare or rabbit.

The animal welfare group RSPCA, in conjunction with police in the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, raided five properties last week after the ABC handed over its evidence ahead of the programme being broadcast on Monday evening.

Australia has one of the largest greyhound racing industries in the world and live baiting has been banned and criminalised for decades.

RSPCA Australia chief executive Heather Neil said the practice appeared to be an entrenched culture where animal cruelty was seen by some as an accepted cost of the sport.

"If it is this widespread in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, it would be naive to think it isn't happening elsewhere," she said in a statement.

"The callous disregard for animal suffering shown by individuals captured in this footage should see the state and territory racing bodies immediately suspending the trainers and others implicated."

‘Illegal and unethical’

Greyhounds Australasia chief executive Scott Parker said 23 people had been suspended as he ordered an urgent independent review of all systems relating to animal welfare and integrity.

"I am appalled at some of the footage shown on the Four Corners programme," he said.

"The use of live animals to train greyhounds is disgusting, illegal, unethical and totally rejected by the industry."

New South Wales and Victoria are the prominent states for greyhound racing.

Greyhound Racing NSW said it had hired a former High Court justice to lead a review into live baiting while the Victorian government announced separate investigations into animal cruelty and animal welfare.

"I think anyone who saw it or heard about it would be sick to their stomach," NSW Premier Mike Baird told reporters of the expose.

"We will get to the bottom of this and we will ensure there is absolutely zero tolerance."

The maximum penalty for animal cruelty is two years jail and a US$23 000 fine with Greyhound Racing Victoria chief executive Adam Wallish pledging that "we will move heaven and Earth to make sure they are convicted".

Read more on:    australia  |  animals

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