BRAVO New South Wales for racing headlong into a new era of animal rights in Australia, by banning greyhound racing. This has been met with a lot of anger and backlash by the community, however marks a long overdue victory for animal rights and justice in this world. The difference between animal sports and human sports is simple – humans can consent, animals can’t.
Greyhound racing has been a hugely controversial sport in Australia due to the widespread use of live baiting in training dogs and killing off those who had the misfortune of being born too slow to satisfy the race conditions.
After a lengthy inquiry by the Royal Comission into the industry, which found the industry to have a systemic culture of mistreating and killing dogs as well as live bait such as rabbits, piglets, possums and even kittens, the state called for a ban of the sport. This paves the way animal rights in the toughest of environments, given that the sport is treasured as a national past time that provides jobs to thousands of people.
“… tens of thousands of dogs are being systematically killed, often in inhumane ways, simply for not being fast enough”
– Mike Baird, NSW Premier
Controversy has flooded this decision, with the $AUD 1 billion strong industry lashing out at NSW liberal premier Mike Baird for his decision. A lot of this backlash surrounds the now unemployed parties in the industry, with projections of over 5,000 jobs lost in the state, including regional areas which already suffer from double the amount of unemployment as in metropolitan areas.
“It is simply not acceptable in the 21st century to be putting thousands upon thousands of dogs to death for the purposes of sport and entertainment and gambling”
– Dr. Jed Goodfellow, RSPCA
Mr. Baird took to facebook to defend this ban and address many of the complaints that people had. In brief, he discussed the failings of the industry to reform itself after years of knowingly participating in illegal activities of live baiting and killing off dogs whose sole crime was being born too slow for the game. The year long inquiry taken into the sport was comprehensive and showed that “the Government had little choice but to take this course of action” due to the systemic nature of the illegal actions.
He also noted that there was no joy in taking jobs from those who were unaware of the illegal nature of the sport, and that there are transition packages to shut down the industry in a structured and orderly way.
“Creating extra restrictions brings me no joy. But neither does the death of thousands of dogs a year.”
– Mike Baird, NSW Premier
Another salient point brough to light was the death of greyhounds who could not be rehomed. Indeed, RSPCAs around the country are being inundated with greyhounds, but so too, with demand for these beautiful creatures. Mr. Baird admitted that dogs would inevitably be put down if they could not find homes, but this is a small fraction of the yearly deaths of thousands of ‘unfit’ dogs each year in the industry. Unfortunately utilitarian approaches come at a cost, but this action heralds an age where systemic animal abuse will no longer be tolerated by law.
Many people turned to petty arguments decrying horse racing (with the annual Melbourne Cup being one of Australia’s biggest tourist attractions), and puppy farms. We ask however, does this make the illegal mistreatment of dogs, murder of dogs, and deception within the industry any less worse? Does this mean that action should not be taken on something where action is still needed? Change comes little by little, and this is certainly no small change.
Thank you to the brave government of NSW for realising this, and for Premier Mike Baird for sticking to your guns in the face of such strong adversity. Let’s hope this is the first step of many for greyhounds and all animals who are subjected to human wiles. As they say… slow and steady wins the race, and this gets us one step closer to the victory line.
If you want to help re-home a greyhound – contact your local RSPCA or google it, they wont be hard to find!
Feature Picture Credit: http://www.egreyhound.com.au/