Is it time for Greyhound racing to end or is it too embedded in Australian culture?

The greyhound racing industry has come under fire recently for the misconduct in animal welfare and live baiting practices it has been covering up for years. However it’s raised a bigger concern than just how it is all regulated – should greyhound racing be stopped completely or is it too significant to Australian culture?

Queensland Premier, Anastacia Palaszczuk released a final report from the Commission of Inquiry into live baiting in greyhound racing earlier this week and the results showed that Australia has a very big problem.

The Animal Welfare League said an independent statutory authority would not lead to improvements in the greyhound racing industry.

Spokeswoman Sylvana Wenderhold said greyhound racing needed to be banned.

“What more does the public need to see, what more evidence has to come to light for the Government to finally say ‘OK, this is enough, this is not a sport that we want to see in modern society in Australia’,” she said.

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When I think of greyhound racing, my mind immediately flicks to The Castle and watching the quintessential Aussie bloke Darryl Kerrigan show how much he loves his racing greyhounds – Starfish, Coco and Son of Coco.

Modern greyhound racing in Australia began in 1927 – the first time a mechanical lure was used. The first race occurred at Epping and the sport, often contrasted to horse racing, had much lower wagers and made it easily accessible to the working class Australian. The upkeep of the sport was a lot lower than horse racing and the races, often at night, suited leisure hours of the working class man.

However, over time the self regulation of the industry has failed and the dogs are now bred in factories specifically for racing. Those who don’t perform well, are deformed or live their racing days and then retire have been found in mass graves, killed by the breeders when they lose ability to earn them money. Live baiting has also been revealed with live rabbits, possums and other animals lured as live bait and killed by the animal at the end. An investigation by Four Corners filmed this and the piercing screams of the animal used as bait were haunting.

Authorities and the Queensland government – a large centre for racing – have said a new statutory authority to safeguard animal welfare and integrity in the industry is needed.

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A report released today said, “Although the general tenor of the information provided to me contains little by way of evidence that the practice of live baiting is widespread in the industry, it would be naive in the extreme to conclude that the practice is not widespread,”

“That it was allowed to happen at all in this day and age is a sad reflection on the state of the greyhound racing industry and those who participate in it whether for pleasure or profit.” as reported in the executive summary.

 

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So at what point does something like this become too dangerous, too unpleasant and too unethical to continue for the sake of “culture”?

It’s akin to the whaling in Japan. A practice embedded in their culture, but has now had significant implications in the health, longevity and wellbeing of our ocean creatures. If the greyhound industry continues, will it ever go back? Will it be able to change?

So tell us today, what do you think? Do you think greyhound racing should stop completely? Do you think we need to sacrifice that part of our culture for it? Share your thoughts in the comments below…