Yesterday, the live baiters of the greyhound racing industry received heartening news – stringing up helpless piglets, chickens and rabbits for them to be mauled to death and suffer an agonising, slow death in sheer terror is punishable by a mere $5,000 fine (as reported in this video).
Ms Edmondson’s case makes a mockery of Australia’s ‘impeccable’ reputation for animal welfare (according to politicians responding to petitions and letters from members of the anti-racing community). It is hard to imagine a worse fate for an animal than having their innards ripped out while they are tied up, still alive and helpless, and flung around a trial track at high speed until they finally die. And yet, she gets away with little more than a monetary fine. The racing community will even welcome her back with open arms after her five-year ban is up. (Racing Queensland initially issued her with a life ban following the Four Corners live baiting expose, but the powers that be in the racing industry eventually chickened out and reduced her punishment to a laughable five years.)
How exactly is this kid-glove treatment supposed to serve as a deterrent to anyone else seeking to win thousands of dollars in prize money by gaining an unfair advantage through live baiting? To our knowledge, none of the live baiters have been ordered to return the prize money that they have won, so a fine of just $5,000 is nothing when compared to what they have earned exploiting animals. To any greyhound racing industry participant toying with doing the wrong thing, this is certainly further reinforcement that they will not pay the ultimate price of a life ban. Neither will they be required to return every cent won through greyhound racing. When the potential gain for breaking the law is significantly greater than the potential punishment of getting caught, getting caught for breaking the law is a mere annoyance rather than the deterrent that it should be. This also makes a mockery of our judicial system.
(Culture) Change, We Can’t
One of the things we have consistently said is that racing regulators’ proposed industry-wide ‘culture change’ is an impossible dream. If you’ve been following the news in Queensland, most of the live baiters have been in the press lately complaining that they were hard done by and ‘victimised’ – there is no show of remorse for what they have done.
Going back to this particular case study, based on Ms Edmondson’s behaviour and posts on Facebook, she is not experiencing any remorse whatsoever and is happy to defend greyhounds getting seriously injured (and subsequently euthanized) on the race track. The first two screenshots are from Feb 2016 and the third from Nov 2015, all published after the live baiting scandal:
Don’t Forget About the Dogs
A frequent cry amongst greyhound racing participants is that they love their dogs, with some going to the extent of claiming that their dogs are treated better than their children. Some have gone as far as to argue that rabbits are just feral pests, so what does it matter if they are used as live bait? They claim that the dogs are ‘treated like kings’, so that makes everything OK – greyhound racing is great!
To use Ms Edmondson as an example of how ‘good treatment’ in greyhound racing is not what the rest of society regards as ‘good treatment’, here are some excerpts from a breeder’s website where she was interviewed on her ‘success’ with a breeding female named Queen Size:
- Julie…took the fawn bitch home and four weeks later she shattered bones in her wrist. “I couldn’t afford the operation so we decided to leave the chips of bones floating in her wrist so it would heal naturally. I was going to keep her for breeding anyway so it didn’t matter about the racing career.”
- Julie broke in the bitch, now named Queen Size, herself and set her for the Vince Curry series at Ipswich. “But every time I trialled her she would pull up lame,” she said.
- So in desperation she took the bitch back to Sam who used “and old remedy” on her and within eight weeks she was back on the track. She ran second in her Vince Curry qually and fell over in the quarter-final.
- “Eventually the wrist got so bad I just had to retire her,” said Julie.
- Julie never had a problem selling pups out of Queen Size. They went like hot cakes. “I’ve never had any trouble selling my pups from Queen Size, but they have never been dear pups. The first litter sold for $800 each, although I got $3000 each for the Elite State litter.”
The full article is available here.
This poor dog, who has been living with “chips of bone floating in her wrist” since breaking it when she was around one year old, was used as a breeding machine for eight years. During this time, she gave birth to a whopping 48 puppies. (To put this number of pups into perspective for you, Racing Queensland’s Greyhound Adoption Program was only able to rehome 57 greyhounds throughout the entire 2014/15 financial year. Still think overbreeding is a myth?)
According to Racing Queensland, the maximum for a breeding female should be three litters up until the age of 8. Queen Size had eight litters up until the age of 11. Still trust greyhound racers when they say their dogs are treated like kings?
What Can You Do About It?
If you live in Queensland, please email your State MP and CC firstname.lastname@example.org to copy in the Racing Minister Grace Grace. Tell your MP and the Racing Minister:
“I am extremely disappointed at the lack of decisive tough action against greyhound racing participants involved in live baiting, both by the courts and by Racing Queensland. For example, I have just seen on 7 News that Julie Edmondson has gotten away with nothing but a $5,000 fine and 5 years’ ban from racing. It is disgusting that her unspeakably cruel and illegal acts have not been appropriately punished – a mere monetary fine is not sufficient justice for this abhorrent crime. It is definitely not enough to serve as a deterrent to other greyhound racers contemplating a similar vile act, as the potential gain from breaking the law in this way is significantly greater.
Greyhound racing has lost its social license. I believe it has no place in modern Australian society and it needs to be shut down. However, as a closure of the industry will take time, it is vital that the government acts NOW to protect the animals currently at the mercy of racing participants. I want to see Racing Queensland issue and execute appropriate sanctions on individuals who commit atrocious crimes like live baiting, and I want stronger animal cruelty laws in place as a deterrent to other greyhound racing participants tempted to use live baiting as a means to success on the track. I trust that you, as my elected representative, will help make change in the racing industry happen.”
You can find your Queensland MP’s email address and phone number on this page.