YESTERDAY’S announcement by the state government that greyhound racing would not be banned was a welcome compromise.
It means the sport will continue, but will face much stricter regulations, which is a far more desirable outcome than seeing it banned completely across the state.
Armidale Greyhound Club treasurer Barry Mitchell and secretary-manager Greg Nordstrom were among those to welcome the decision, supporting harsher penalties to owners not playing by the rules, including bans for animal cruelty.
The live baiting scandal, exposed on ABC’s Four Corners program, was sickening, and it’s reported that between 48,000 and 68,000 dogs were killed in the last 12 years. That’s a confronting statistic and there is no doubt action was needed. But at the same time, the industry directly employs 1000 people and contributes to the economy.
Among the approximately 6000 greyhound owners, you’d be hard pressed to find one with just one or two dogs. The care for these animals and the upkeep of their pens isn’t cheap.
Owners rely on the income generated from their performance on the track to look after their four-legged mates.
Many would not have been able to pack up and go to interstate tracks.
While the owners would welcome yesterday’s reprieve, there were polarized reactions to the decision.
PETA Australia campaign co-ordinator Claire Fryer said it was a sad day not only for thousands of dogs who she said would continue to suffer in a cruel and unjustifiable industry.
“The government has acted on speculation about their polling numbers and pressure from individuals who gain financially from this abusive industry, and ignored the vast majority of New South Wales constituents who abhor the inherit brutality of greyhound racing,” she said.
Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party MP Robert Borsak was also unhappy, claiming the backflip did not go far enough and he is calling for a full reversal of the greyhound racing ban.
He claimed the new regulations would cause the demise of the sport, and were only made for political reasons, with the government facing a backlash in the upcoming Orange by-election.
The words of poet John Lydgate must be ringing in Mike Baird’s ears today.
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