We greyhound trainers who look after their dogs are the rule, not the exception. This ban has done nothing more than victimise us.
I’m a greyhound trainer. I can’t show you my face or give you my name because doing so gives every person on the planet the right to send a vitriolic mob of Greenies to turn up on my property, and interfere with my personal life.
So for now, I am X.
Let’s start by saying, I actually voted Greens in the last election so I’m not casting aspersions on your political preferences, and secondly: I am not exaggerating when I say an angry mob forms whenever I admit to being involved with greyhounds.
I’ve had greyhounds my entire life; my whole family has. I have joked on many occasions that I learned to walk by holding onto a dog leash and that my dad taught me maths in a TAB:
“So, X. If I put $5 and it’s paying $5, how much will I get back?”
I’ve spent my entire life having to reiterate the same spiel over and over, and over again, letting people know that no, my dogs aren’t underfed – in fact they are fed probably better than most human beings; no, my dogs are not mistreated or locked up in tiny cages all day; and yes, I do know if my dog actually enjoys racing – I’ve never seen any animal look happier than my dog when he realises that we’ve come to the track instead of the vet’s or the park.
But what would I know? I’m probably new to the industry, right?
Our family has had greyhounds for decades. We’re very much like the Kerrigan family from The Castle; we race for the beauty of the sport, not the money, and over the years we’ve trained some bloody good dogs, and some pretty slow ones – but we don’t race to win.
Many of my closest friends I met through the greyhounds. We pull together in times of need to help each other out better than any other community I know. Going to the greyhound track for us is like Cheers – everybody knows your name. And if it’s a new track, it doesn’t take you long to settle in and have a whole new group of friends.
Also on The Big Smoke
- My weekend with Bernie: Why I support Baird’s greyhound ban
- Save the Greyhound: The gruesome truth behind the dog racing industry
The people I know through the greyhounds are animal lovers through and through. We love our dogs, just like you love your cat or your poodle. We treat them like family. Some sleep inside or have their own seats in the car, some even get the full blown pamper treatment every couple of days just to keep them fresh. Their diets are balanced better than any household pets I’ve ever met, they are kept up to date with vaccinations and vet visits. When our dogs hurt, we hurt. We would never put them in harm’s way intentionally, especially not for a profit.
We are the rule, not the exception.
Today, Premier of NSW, Mike Baird, declared that as of July 1st 2017 greyhound racing in NSW will be banned, a decision being heralded by what seems like absolutely everybody.
Greyhound racing has had a shocker of a couple of years. In February last year we saw what we believe was the beginning of the end: footage from ABC’s Four Corners program (illegally obtained by trespassing) which depicted multiple trainers using live bait to train their dogs. Jaws collectively dropped around Australia (and after 10 minutes of viewing, I now don’t eat bacon as a result). It was sickening and horrifying and shook our industry so hard that it practically fell apart.
But, the Greyhound Owners, Breeders and Trainers of Australia (and NSW especially) had been calling for reform for a while. Greyhound racing in NSW has never been as good as it is right now. These are reforms that have made the industry one I can be incredibly proud of, because they’re actually being enforced as opposed to being proposed and forgotten about by the powers that be.
Are there going to be more programs created? I propose using income the greyhound industry churns into the NSW Government to fund extra programs if that’s the case because if it’s not, Mike Baird just signed the death certificate of thousands of greyhounds.
We got rid of our Board of Directors at Greyhound Racing NSW – which was something we’d been rallying to have happen for years – and in turn, legislation became tighter on trainers who were caught being cruel to animals. Legislation had always been in place, but with a control board that lacked backbone it was difficult to enforce. With a new board, people were able to be held responsible for their actions which included every single trainer caught up in the Four Corners exposé.
In a far more intrusive act (and pretty much for nothing), many people I know had their properties trespassed on by Animals Australia who were hoping to catch out someone enacting cruelty toward animals – I can proudly say that they were shit out of luck – and Greyhound Racing NSW employed more stewards and kennel inspectors to perform surprise visits on trainers at all hours of the day and night. This proved to be fruitless for illegal acts and evidence, but was in turn a good result for the trainers who had been pleading innocence all along. I know of at least 25 people who had their places investigated and not one of them made it into the final report, because none of them were in breach of animal protection laws.
As my dad always says: don’t let all the truth get in the way of a good story.
When mass graves were found with dogs in them, did the media provide accurate figures to show that greyhounds were in the minority of breeds found? Absolutely not. This is fucking dreadful stuff, no matter what the piles of bones were comprised of, but the media was eager to claim 100 percent of dogs discovered were greyhounds – pesky truth getting the way again.
Legislation had always been in place but with a new board, people were held responsible for their actions which included every single trainer caught up in the Four Corners exposé.
In part of the report by The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Industry in New South Wales is a damning statistic that greyhounds are put down every year “because they can’t race any longer”. Greyhounds are put down at an alarming rate – more than any other breed of dog in the country, any vet or vet nurse will tell you this – but the greyhound industry has been putting goals in place to bring the number right down and it’s really been helping. There are programs such as the Greyhound Adoption Program and even a specialised facility on the Central Coast bought by GRNSW as a rehoming service for retired racers.
But this brings me to my biggest gripe about what, in my opinion, is Mike Baird’s heavy handed idea to get rid of greyhound racing from NSW.
The adoption services are full. The rehoming facility is full. There are thousands of greyhounds whose current trainers’ only livelihood comes from those greyhounds being able to race. You take those dogs’ purpose for being in the kennels away and what happens to those dogs? This is not a scare tactic, this is 100 percent fact coming from someone inside the industry: waiting lists for the Greyhound Adoption programs start at three months due to the influx of ex-racers they get constantly.
That is ludicrous.
I know greyhound people. We will try for as long as we can to keep the dogs, but an animal that once upon a time paid for itself (or in some cases pays for at least four other dogs in the kennel at the same time) can cause someone to haemorrhage money from their bank account. Sooner or later, the decision will be the inevitable. If someone doesn’t have an income for three months but 150 greyhounds, do you know what looks like a really tempting option?
Where does Mike Baird think these dogs are going to go? Are there going to be more programs created? I propose using the income the greyhound industry churns into the NSW Government to fund these extra programs if that’s the case because if it’s not, Mike Baird just signed the death certificate of thousands of greyhounds alive in NSW today.
How do you celebrate that?