An Industry Ban Reversed on Political Grounds following a Relentless and Biased Media Campaign
Troy Grant’s resignation as the leader of the Nationals in NSW has lent momentum to the greyhound racing industry’s push to avoid reform or accountability for the horrors uncovered by the Special Commission of Inquiry into Greyhound Racing.
I greeted this news with some sadness. Despite the inexplicable U-turn on the greyhound racing ban, which looked like little more than bowing to pressure from a biased media and noisy minority, I believe Grant and Baird had good intentions when they introduced the greyhound racing ban.
It is sad to see that 18 months of thorough research and the moral conviction of our leaders have not been able to stand up to inaccurate opinion columnists, loud-mouthed media shock jocks, and biased journalism in newspapers owned by the same company that, at the time that the ban reversal was announced, was revealed to have purchased punters.com.au.
Anyone who volunteers in greyhound rescue will tell you how often “urgent: need gone now”, “need to make room”, “free giveaway” and “take the dog or it’s off to the vets” messages come in every week for more and more unwanted greyhounds, while they struggle with a lack of funds, lack of foster carers and lack of forever homes to place these dogs into. An inevitable mantra is “we can’t save them all” to stave off the trauma, mental distress and guilt that results from not being able to rescue every dog thrown at you.
The Amorality of it all
It is obvious to anyone who can do basic math that as long as greyhound racing exists, greyhounds will be used and discarded with no end in sight. When anybody can just breed greyhounds indiscriminately to try their luck at the puppy lottery to produce the next Sweet It Is or Fernando Bale (indeed, that was Paul Wheeler’s advice to people after the live baiting scandal – “just keep breeding”. This is the same man who informed GRNSW that the outcomes for his dogs were that 75.7% of them were euthanised before the age of 5, most commonly for being “not for racing”), it is pretty obvious that a large number of surplus dogs are bound to result.
To add insult to injury, the greyhound racing industry’s frequent rhetoric about being a ‘sport’ for ‘battlers’ who just wanted a ‘hobby’ made it even worse. Brenton Scott, head of the NSW Greyhound Racing Industry Alliance, in 2015 declared that most participants were hobbyists, although after the announcement of the ban he was quick to claim that tens of thousands of jobs would be lost.
What purpose does using greyhounds for racing truly serve? Nothing but entertainment for a minority group and gambling, which besides ruining lives through addiction is one of the leading causes of domestic violence. There are no redeeming qualities whatsoever: it is unacceptable, unconscionable and unnecessary.
Troy Grant, in his resignation announcement on Facebook wrote, “regional NSW is full of hard-working, decent people that want to see their Government supporting them and otherwise let them live their lives as they see fit.”
Sorry, Troy – you’ve got it wrong this time. The decent people of NSW supported the greyhound racing ban – animal cruelty is animal cruelty regardless of where it takes place, be it in urban areas or in the regions.
I believe Troy Grant tried to do the right thing, even though it has cost him his job and put his family at risk. (How quickly people have forgotten that the same ‘decent people’ of greyhound racing threatened him after the ban was announced.)
His resignation comes after three individual rescues were carried out in NSW by independent volunteers at their own expense and with no assistance whatsoever by the industry:
- seven young greyhounds surrendered with worms, fleas and rotten teeth at just 18 months old;
- a white and black greyhound in Bargo urgently rescued after her owner advertised her online saying she would be euthanised if she was not gone by the end of the week;
- a heroic ex-brood bitch who saved her racing owner’s life when he collapsed of a heart attack, only to be discarded once she was no longer needed for breeding and with a prominent, visible tumour that was no longer operable by the time she was surrendered to a rescuer.
Rita – Photo Above:
Rita was an ex brood bitch and race dog who was recently picked up by a rescuer from a NSW breeder. Six weeks ago she saved her racing owner’s life when he collapsed in the yard by barking until help came from inside the house; and yet this wasn’t enough to earn her a trip to the vet for the very obvious tumour on her nose or even a place in his household as a permanent pet.
Rita’s cancer has spread and it is now too late to operate – her condition is terminal. Her story has reached 65,700+ people on Facebook and they are all as horrified as I was by this breathtaking neglect and callousness. Her racing owner has been reported to GRNSW and the RSPCA and we hope that she will at least get justice, as a full and happy life is now denied to her.
We look at these stories of neglect, abuse and ceaseless abandonment by the industry, and wonder why the government has bowed to pressure from the industry to “let them live their lives as they see fit” when it comes at such a high cost – to thousands of dogs and hundreds of compassionate rescuers.
For the moment, it would seem like self-interest and arrogance has won out over compassion and kindness to those who have no voices and no votes.
But make no mistake – we are not giving up.
Who are We?
We are watching grimly as our politicians fail us and our systems fail us, but we will not give up and fail these dogs who’ve been failed too many times before. We are going to keep working at educating the public and we are going to keep working at saving greyhounds.
What the industry, some parts of the media and indeed the government have failed to understand is that “we” are not animal activists. We are normal Australian people who just happen to love animals and can’t stand the fact that a tiny group of people overbreed, exploit and abandon dogs on an industrial basis with no checks or balances in sight.
With dogs being the most popular choice of pet in Australian households, and Australia having one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, how could you you really think it was only a handful of loony extremists who are against greyhound racing and the industrial-scale slaughter of healthy, young dogs for no reason other than their lack of ability for racing?
We are vets, vet nurses, corporate businessmen and women, doctors, hospital nurses, schoolteachers, small business owners, students, university lecturers, academics, real estate agents, retired servicemen, musicians.
We are the men who drive your garbage trucks, the mums you see picking up their kids from school, the women who stack the shelves at Coles or Woollies, the senior citizens spending their golden years caring for discarded dogs.
What is right is right, no matter where you live or what your socioeconomic status is, and we won’t stop speaking up for the greyhounds until greyhound racing is gone.
We are here to stay, our numbers are growing and we are not going anywhere.