Why stop at NSW and ACT? Ban Greyhound racing in WA

Why stop at NSW and ACT? Ban Greyhound racing in WA, greyhounds, animals

WA must act now in response to the overwhelming evidence that has led NSW and ACT to ban greyhound racing because of systemic cruelty. Senseless deaths and injuries are unacceptable to all Australians, not just those in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territories.

A recent NSW independent inquiry uncovered the ghastly truth about greyhound racing. It’s clear that the ‘social license’ enjoyed by the industry no longer exists. The report states “Members condoned and participated in the mass slaughter of tens of thousands of healthy greyhounds simply because they no longer are, or never were, able to compete against other dogs. …it appears unlikely that the issue of the large scale killing of healthy greyhounds by the industry can be addressed successfully in the future.”

The evidence provided in this report was so damning that both NSW and ACT acted to put systems in place to ban the industry immediately.  Interestingly these governments are of different political persuasions, NSW is Liberal while ACT is Labor.  This clearly demonstrates that whether or not greyhound racing should be allowed is above party politics – it is a moral and ethical issue.

Worldwide the industry is in decline, with only 8 countries permitting greyhound racing. In the USA, it is illegal in 40 out of 50 states.

The question on all of our minds is: to what extent do these horrific practices happen in WA? The short answer is we don’t know for sure. I have repeatedly asked questions in Parliament trying to get an accurate picture of the number of injuries greyhounds have sustained and how many dogs have been euthanised simply because they weren’t fast enough.  My questions have been consistently stymied or stonewalled.

Soon after the 2015 Four Corners exposé of the industry shone a light on live baiting practices in NSW and Queensland I called for an independent investigation into the WA industry here. The government refused, maintaining that there was no need as Racing and Wagering WA monitored the practice. In light of such serious allegations of misconduct that was taking place in the Eastern states this response was clearly inadequate.

We know that many of the dogs that race here have been bred and trained in other states.  The WA scene is interconnected with what is happening nationally.

The Minister has recently admitted however that in Western Australia at least 800 dogs have been euthanised in the past two years. Of these 520 were due to injuries and 182 were because of lack of racing ability or being a poor performer.  These numbers are outrageously high. 

We can also assume that the horrific track injuries reported in the inquiry report such as skull fractures and broken backs happen here. These kinds of injuries can occur during a race and as such are an inherent part of the sport.

Lack of transparency into the WA industry aside, if you share my belief that humans have a responsibility to minimise any suffering of animals caused by human activities, and to maximise their quality of life, then you will also agree that Greyhound racing is a sport that is fundamentally at odds with this stance. 

Should the NSW report fail to convince the current WA government to ban greyhound racing here, they may well finally instigate an independent inquiry into the WA industry. But each time a dog incurs a painful catastrophic injury during a race and with each greyhound euthanised for not being the fastest in the litter, the 'sport' will fall further into disgrace. Best to follow the lead of NSW and ACT and initiate a ban.

Opinion piece July 2016