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WATCH: NSW in Australia just banned greyhound racing. Here’s why that’s a big deal…

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Posted on August 30, 2016: It is an Australia-wide past time. A favourite avenue for entertainment. Watching greyhounds race and betting on them. Of the eight countries in the world where a commercial greyhound racing industry continues to exist, Australia has the largest. An estimated $4 billion is bet on greyhounds in Australia every year.

Hence, New South Wales taking the lead among the six states of Australia and banning the cruel, ‘consumptive’ industry of greyhound racing within its states borders is a big deal.

Cruelty allegations

The ban arose from the shock of an investigative story into the cruelty entrenched in how the industry operates. Two of Australia’s largest animal rights organisations, Animal Australia and Animal Liberation Queensland teamed up for covert investigations and uncovered video evidence of the practise of ‘live baiting’. Live baiting is the use of live animals such as rabbits, piglets, possums and kittens hooked to a baiting hook intended to drive the dogs wild and make them run faster and more fiercely around the track. The entire time the live animal on the hook is writhing in pain, shocked and scared out of its senses and being torn to pieces alive.

Live baiting is fairly widespread in the industry. While the judicial commission that investigated the claims of the report concluded that about 20 percent of the industry uses live baiting, on the back of a testimony from a man who identified himself as a trainer who's been using live-baiting for decades. Another claim said about 90 per cent of the industry uses live baiting.

Additionally, the industry admitted to killing 17,000 healthy dogs each year simply because they are unfit for competitive racing.

Legal weapon

NSW Premier Mike Baird took cognisance of the investigative story and brought a Bill into the state parliament to ban greyhound racing in NSW. He was assisted by Animal Justice Party MP Mark Pearson.

On August 24, NSW’s parliament passed the Bill into law legislating to ban greyhound racing. The industry will be dismantled and disbanded by July 1, 2017, after which date it will become a criminal offence.

In a country where wildlife activists need to rescue elephants and other wild animals from circuses and then fight protracted legal battles just to keep them safe, the Australian example is a good to turn to when we want to be reminded of how the legal system can empower those who really need it.

Photograph and video courtesy Animals Australia.

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