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NSW greyhound racing industry investigated over alleged abuse and cover-ups

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Greyhound racing in NSW is under the spotlight after allegations of cover ups and abuse were revealed from a former employees.
Greyhound racing NSW is under investigation after allegations of abuse and mistreatment of dogs.

Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) is being investigated after allegations of animal abuse and cover-ups.

It comes after the former chief veterinarian at GRNSW wrote to the organisation detailing his concerns about the greyhounds’ welfare and evidence of wrongdoing.

The letter has since been tabled in State Parliament, and the head of GRNSW has resigned.

Here’s what you need to know.

Background

The NSW greyhound racing industry faced previous allegations of misconduct and animal abuse in 2015. An ABC investigation by Four Corners found evidence of cruelty in the industry, including use of ‘live baits’ during racing like possums and rabbits.

It prompted the then-Coalition State Government to pass a ban on greyhound racing, which was overturned within three months following backlash.

Instead, the Greyhound Welfare & Integrity Commission was established to independently monitor animal welfare compliance within the industry.

Vet report

Last month, former GRNSW chief vet Alex Brittan wrote a handover report for his successor.

He accused the organisation of mistreating some dogs and covering up “miserable post racing lives” of greyhounds living in industrial-scale kennels.

Brittan detailed current practices that he said put greyhounds at greater risk of injury. For example, he said dogs are more likely to become injured on hard clay racing tracks (used in some parts of NSW) than on softer wet sand tracks used in the UK.

Trainers are paid $60 for every dog they take to a race. Brittan said some trainers try to race as many greyhounds “as possible”, leading to increased injuries.

Brittan also argued the scale of greyhounds being raced makes it “impossible” for vets to adequately assess the animals’ health.

GRNSW vets are given roughly 45 minutes to physically inspect more than 100 greyhounds before their races, according to Brittan.

Rehoming

Owners are responsible for “rehoming” retired racing dogs that they don’t wish to keep, according to GRNSW. For example, adopting them out as pets, or surrendering them to a rescue/adoption organisation.

GRNSW subsidises the cost of desexing retired dogs.

Brittan accused GRNSW of “amplifying” greyhound adoption/rehoming rates “to make themselves look good”.

In 2023, GRNSW claimed more than 2,200 dogs were rehomed, while the State Govt-established regulator reported 1,650.

Brittan blamed this gap on GRNSW counting greyhounds as rehomed when they’ve only been desexed.

He said some owners take desexed dogs to “industrial caged” boarding facilities, where dogs are housed for a weekly fee.

Brittan’s report also included photos of two blood-smeared NSW kennels where some dogs are held before races in western Sydney, in “rotten and rusted” cages.

Resignation

Brittan said his findings should be shared with NSW Racing Minister David Harris “immediately,” in line with industry integrity regulations. However, Minister Harris said he received the findings four days late.

GRNSW CEO Rob Macaulay resigned earlier this week. Harris gave the rest of the GRNSW board a deadline of Friday to “show cause” for why they should remain in their positions.

In a statement to TDA, GRNSW said it takes “any claim or concern related to animal welfare or the integrity of our rehoming programs very seriously”.

Investigation

The Greyhound Welfare & Integrity Commission told TDA it’s investigating the accusations levelled against GRNSW by its former chief vet.

Greens Upper House MP Abigail Boyd wants the industry to be shut down, saying it’s “incapable of reform.”

Premier Chris Minns has ruled out a blanket ban on the industry, but said he’s treating the allegations “seriously”.

A spokesperson for NSW Shadow Racing Minister Kevin Anderson told TDA the Opposition is closely monitoring the matter.

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