By Peter Lynch
The Baird government’s decision in New South Wales to reverse its ban on greyhound racing has caused a wave of mixed opinion as people react to the news the sport will continue indefinitely.
The original decision to ban the controversial sport came after inquiries and investigations into its practices uncovered serious cases of animal mistreatment, such as the practice of live baiting.
For activists like Toni Donnelly, the manager of Greyhound Adoptions WA, the decision to reverse the ban has come as a blow.
“Greyhounds are the most abused dogs in the country. The ban on racing would have been a step in the right direction and seeing it fail is quite upsetting,” said Mrs Donnelly.
To others however, the reversal of the ban is good news. Mark Hill, greyhound owner and trainer, said that he is glad the ban has been overturned.
“I have owned greyhounds for over 10 years and not once have I mistreated them. Why should some people mistreating their animals stop the rest of us from racing? It makes no sense,” Mr Hill said.
In place of the ban, the Baird government laid out several measures intended to stop unethical treatment of greyhounds, including capping breeding to 2,000 dogs a year and placing a $1,500 bond on each dog that is bred. These measures are intended to discourage trainers from abandoning their greyhounds when they can no longer compete.
Mrs Donnelly remains skeptical that the measures suggested will do much to stop greyhound abuse.
“I can’t see much change happening. I think things are quite likely to revert to the way they were,” she said.
An internal report by Greyhounds Australia suggests the greyhound industry is responsible for as many as 17,000 greyhound deaths a year.
“Last year we homed almost 250 dogs. The thing about this sport is that as soon as the dogs are past their prime they are no good to the trainers anymore,” said Mrs Donnelly.
“Of course there are so many dogs that end up without a home or end up being euthanised.”