The investigator who helped uncover “live baiting” in the eastern states’ greyhound industry is certain the same cruel practices are happening in South Australia.
And the local industry is also worried, flagging an increase in inspections and the introduction of covert surveillance of South Australian trainers.
The national greyhound industry is reeling from a graphic and disturbing Four Corners report last night which showed animals such as possums, rabbits and piglets being used as live bait to train greyhounds.
Seventy interstate greyhound trainers, including some leading identities, were implicated in the brutal training method, in which live animals are tied to mechanical lures and the dogs encouraged to chase and kill them.
Animals Australia investigator Lyn White, a former SA Police officer, said today that she was sure the practice was being used in South Australia’s greyhound industry.
“I have no doubt that live baiting occurs in South Australia as well,” she told ABC radio. “The other states’ racing authorities two weeks ago would have said that they had no evidence either and look what’s then been discovered there. From what we are gathering, it’s an entrenched practice in the industry.”
The lobby group wants state governments to take over regulation of the industry, a view echoed by the RSPCA in South Australia which has called for external oversight of animal welfare.
RSPCA South Australia CEO Tim Vasudeva told InDaily that he wanted animal welfare in the industry to be regulated by a properly resourced external body such as the RSPCA, a government department or local councils.
Vasudeva said the RSPCA had no live investigations into live baiting and had never prosecuted a greyhound trainer for the practice – but he did have concerns it was happening here.
“It’s clearly a systemic issue and not just one or two rogue operators – it’s presumably widespread,” he said.
“To suggest that it can’t possibly happen in SA is a bit fanciful.”
He said self-regulation didn’t work.
“Self-regulation from our perspective is never a good thing and is generally not seen to be effective, particularly when you have people making a living off the back of animals.”
Greyhound Racing SA has indicated it would be happy to give up some of its regulatory autonomy – or even all of it – if that’s what is needed to ensure the integrity of the industry.
GRSA chief executive Matt Corby told InDaily he had been in talks with the State Government and the RSPA to increase its powers to inspect trainers, which at the moment were limited.
He expressed disgust at the practices revealed in the Four Corners report and promised to increase spending on inspections of SA greyhound trainers, including exploring the introduction of covert surveillance.
He said there was no evidence that live baiting was happening here but “we take little comfort from that because our monitoring processes aren’t dissimilar from the eastern seaboard”.
It would be disingenuous for the industry to say that there was no chance the practice was happening in South Australia.
“We shouldn’t be satisfied that our monitoring is working – I think we need to accept that, quite clearly,” he said.
Corby said GRSA had 1.5 staff members to inspect the state’s 300 trainers, and it probably needed to double its investment in integrity processes.
However, he also said there were limits to the investigative powers of the industry and he had been talking to the RSPCA and the Government about bringing external investigative bodies into the regulatory regime.
“We have a primary objective here – it has to stop,” he said.
Corby said he had briefed state Sports Minister Leon Bignell and state Environment Minister Ian Hunter.
Bignell said he was disgusted by the revelations in the Four Corners report but he had been reassured by the industry that none of those practices happen here.
However, he said if anyone had any information about live baiting happening in SA, then they should call the RSPCA and the Police.
He said he had been a part owner of greyhounds for many years and wasn’t aware of the practice.
He wouldn’t announce an investigation, saying he did not want to have a “kneejerk reaction”, but said he would sit down with the industry and the RSPCA to discuss the next steps.
Hunter said the Four Corners footage was “deeply disturbing”.
“No allegations that these practices occur in South Australia have been raised, but we encourage anyone with information on such practices to come forward to the RSPCA or the South Australian Police,” he said in a statement.
“These disgusting acts have no place in the industry and if they’re happening in South Australia we will move to stamp them out immediately.”
Watch the full Four Corners report here.
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