Outrage over live baiting

SALE and District Greyhound Club is appalled at the incidents of live baiting highlighted in the media this week.

On Monday night, ABC television’s Four Corners broadcast footage of live rabbits, pigs and possums being used as bait at trial tracks in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.

Greyhound Racing Victoria has suspended the registration of a private facility at Tooradin in far-west Gippsland, and the registration of 10 people for alleged live baiting offences at that facility.

Under GRV’s animal welfare penalty guidelines, offenders could face a 10-year ban from the sport.

Live baiting is a criminal offence and can attract a jail term of up to two years and a fine of more than $30,000.

Sale and District Greyhound Club racing manager Des Dooley said the club did not tolerate or condone behaviour which went against acceptable community standards.

“During my 20-year involvement, the committee and management of this club has built up a proven track record in acting swiftly and decisively when dealing with a wide range of issues including anti-social behaviour, bullying, sexual harassment and animal welfare.

“I can only recall one complaint being forwarded to this club regarding live baiting and this was forwarded to the relevant authority, the then Greyhound Racing Control Board and charges were laid,” he said.

“In the 18 years since we have not had a similar complaint which justifies the measures taken at the time.

“At present the club has a network of security cameras that cover all of the track and main car park and this, along with our nightly security patrols, act as a deterrent to the very small minority of irresponsible participants.”

In light of recent developments, Sale Greyhound Club will install an additional 10 cameras which will monitor adjoining areas.

“It should be pointed out that the Sale and District Greyhound Club does not license the participants and so therefore does not have any jurisdiction other than for actions on our premises,” Mr Dooley said.

He said people with concerns regarding the conduct of greyhound racing participants should phone Greyhound Racing Victoria on 8329 1100.

The state government has acted swiftly to address serious allegations levelled at the state’s greyhound racing industry, including claims of live baiting.

State Racing Minister Martin Pakula and Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford have announced a broad investigation into animal welfare and allegations of animal cruelty in the greyhound racing industry by chief veterinary officer Dr Charles Milne.

An independent investigation will also be conducted by Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna — with co-operation from GRV.

Mr Perna will also oversee GRV’s investigation into breaches of the racing rules and assist Victoria Police and the RSPCA with their investigation into criminal matters involving alleged animal cruelty.

The government will also allocate up to $3 million from the Victorian Racing Infrastructure Fund towards bolstering GRV’s animal welfare and integrity measures, including four extra greyhound welfare compliance and education officers, on top of GRV’s existing two officers, to inspect trainers’ premises more regularly.

The government will also consider any potential legislative changes to support GRV’s ability to detect and investigate illegal activity.

Mr Pakula condemned live baiting. “Live-baiting is barbaric, abhorrent and illegal — it has absolutely no place in Victoria’s racing industry and it must be stopped,” he said.

GRV chairman Peter Caillard also condemned the practice of live baiting at the Tooradin facility.

“I watched and was sickened.

“The use of live bait in the training of greyhounds is abhorrent and has no place in our sport,” he said.

“Any person engaged in live baiting can expect to be disqualified and prosecuted.

“As soon as the allegations were brought to our attention we immediately suspended the individuals involved.”

Mr Caillard refuted allegations in the Four Corners program that the practice was widespread in Victoria.