I feel a bit sick. I just watched Australia’s current affairs show Four Corners on live-baiting in the greyhound industry. Live-baiting is the practice of blooding greyhounds to increase their prey drive and make them run faster. This is achieved by tying small, live animals to a lure, dragging them around the track and letting the greyhounds rip them apart. For nearly 50 minutes I watched piglets, possums and rabbits being tortured to death by some of Australia’s most respected greyhound industry people. Live-baiting is illegal both here and in Australia.
The abuse was recorded by hidden cameras planted by animal rights activists. Their investigations revealed the practice to be widespread, something the industry body has been denying for years. The animal abuse was disgusting and so was the blatant lying by the people involved. Not aware that their heinous actions were caught on camera, they declared, stony-faced, their opposition to live-baiting, calling it cruel and unacceptable. They repeatedly talked about animal welfare being the most important aspect of their ‘sport’ and how they much they love animals. The graphic footage combined with the lies of these despicable human beings was enough to turn your stomach.
The reaction to this explosive exposé was massive. The Australian media literally smelled blood and the public reaction was one of utter abhorrence. Dozens of trainers have been stood down, the New South Wales racing board has been disbanded and investigations are on the way.
As far as I am concerned this should be the end of this brutal industry, already under a cloud because of the treatment of the greyhounds themselves and the rampant killing of dogs (over 18,000 in Australia alone) that don’t make any money for their owners. Sadly, though, it won’t be the end. The millions of dollars earned in gambling money will ensure that the racing continues, and to hell with the welfare of the dogs or their live-bait victims.
Sure, a big song and dance will be made about ‘cleaning up’ the industry, but with these cruel practices apparent endemic to greyhound racing, this will never be achieved. No doubt a whole bunch of trainers will be banned from racing and a few heads will roll in officialdom. Some of the worst offenders may even go to jail. Then when things have died down, unscrupulous characters will once again resume live-baiting. Non-performing dogs, of course, will continue to be killed by the thousands.
The fact is that gambling on animal racing, whether it is on greyhounds, horses or pigeons, is a recipe for disaster for the animals. With so much money at stake, there will be many who will cheat and use any means to get a better performance out of their animals, whether this is achieved by the use of illegal drugs, live-baiting or other unacceptable training methods. In the end the animals always pay the price.
The New Zealand greyhound industry says that they are not aware of any live-baiting taking place in this country – the same line used by their Australian counterparts until the exposé. After all the lying of the Australian greyhound racing elite, I have absolutely no confidence in any statements from New Zealanders with a financial interest in this industry. It is time for a thorough and independent investigation here as well.
Hans Kriek, Executive Director