Greyhound racing banned in NSW

The Olympics is well underway on the other side of the world, but back home in Australia, our local sports and racing industries are still creating news headlines. After the public announcement last month that greyhound racing would be banned in NSW, Premier Mike Baird has been in the news again, announcing that he will be formally cementing his intentions to introduce state legislation to officially ban greyhound racing.

The Premier’s actions have largely been influenced by the recent report, that stated that as many as 68,000 dogs over the past 12 years had been slaughtered, mostly because they were deemed unfit for racing (or in other words too slow to win races). The report’s findings horrified many, and although currently legal, brought into question as to whether or not greyhound racing still had a “social licence” to operate. It was announced by the NSW government that parliament would be making the decision; voting whether or not the industry should remain legal given the disturbing outcomes of reported dog deaths.

Last Tuesday Mr Baird made a statement to the media claiming his team was looking to “provide as much time, as much flexibility, and as much financial support as we can as they transition away from racing within this state” before the deadline created by the proposed plan, to completely shut down the greyhound dog racing industry by July 1, 2017. There has been heated discussion from all sides of government on the ethics and actions of the Premier. Even members of Mike Baird’s own political party, the NSW Liberals, have condemned the decision to ban greyhound racing. Liberal politician Peter Phelps, vowed he would cross the floor in an attempt to ensure the proposed plans do not succeed, his sentiment is echoed by several Nationals MPs as well.

The legislation was voted on and passed on August 10, without amendment. The new law means anyone who keeps or breeds greyhounds for the purposes of racing, may face up to 6 months jail. The new legislation raises several questions. For example, what will happen to all the current racing dogs? Without an active racing industry, it is feared many of them will simply be slaughtered. Thousands of non-greyhound breeds already sit in dog pounds around the country, many never find a new home. The ban on greyhound racing was raised due to the many dog deaths in the industry. However the banning itself will likely cause many more thousands of dogs to be slaughtered. During and after the transition into the ban, some dogs will remain with their trainers and become loyal pets instead of working dogs. Others may find a new home; however, many pundits believe a large number will meet a similar fate to those that came before them; put down purely for economic reasons. Dr John Keniry, General Coordinator from the Greyhounds Transition Taskforce has given assurances that a raft of measures has been taken and financial assistance will be made available to those in the industry as part of the ongoing transition package he is developing for the NSW government.

A pack of greyhounds mid race
Photo credit: Greyhound Racing NSW

An interesting side-fact according to the Daily Telegraph NSW councils and the RSPCA put down three times more dogs than the greyhound industry. “Data from city council pounds reveal an average of 16,178 dogs each year that were euthanised between 2005-2006 and 2011-2012”. The reported figures of industry “wastage” of greyhounds put down each year totals approximately 5,000. This means the industry is effectively killing dogs at only a third the rate of the city councils.

Mike Baird’s new laws may have been designed to stop the unnecessary killing of thousands of dogs in the long term, but in doing so, he has inadvertently killed off an entire industry.
What is your opinion? Is Mike Baird right to ban greyhound racing entirely? Or is there a better solution?