Max Fleet

Greyhound trainers to face animal cruelty charges

GREYHOUND racing trainers are expected to face animal cruelty charges following revelations "live-baiting" is occurring.

Four Corners' Monday night program showed live piglets, rabbits and possums being attached to mechanical lures and chased around tracks in the belief it would improve the dogs' performances.

Some of the animals were mauled while those that survived were used again for the banned method.

RSPCA Queensland chief executive officer Mark Townend said there would be prosecutions based on "excellent" evidence.

He said while there was different legislation for each state, those behind the acts could be charged with animal cruelty and failure of duty of care.

Mr Townend believes the methods reach further than the "odd backyard greyhound trainers".

He said those involved were some of the top winners in the sport and the hierarchy must have known about the practice.

The RSPCA and Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria police raided five properties last week and Animals Australia and Animal Liberation Queensland gave their evidence to the RSPCA.

The greyhound industry subsequently suspended 22 people, who could face fines or up to five years in jail.

Animals Australia representative Lyn White said 70 people were implicated in the investigation including leading identities.

"The evidence graphically reveals that when you combine gambling, prize money and live animals, there will be people who will do anything to get a winning edge, regardless of the consequences for animals," she said.

The group said it discovered a possum was left on the lure for nearly an hour, or 22 circuits of the track, as dogs chased and mauled it.

University of Melbourne animal welfare science centre Professor Grahame Coleman said the industry needed to be proactive about ensuring live-baiting no longer occurred.

While he does not suggest the sport should be banned, he predicted more people would advocate for banning it.

Queensland Racing Minister Bill Byrne condemned live-baiting and said he understood there were a number of regulatory possibilities available to him and he had requested more information.

He called upon Racing Queensland to pay attention to all aspects of racing.

"I think it's a matter probably for the inquiry process to reveal exactly what level of regulatory oversight was absent, assuming that all matters are revealed within such an inquiry," Mr Byrne said.

The Victorian Government has announced two separate investigations.

It is understood the NSW Government has not announced an inquiry, but said it would support RSPCA and Greyhound Racing NSW's investigations.


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