In the wake of revelations of live baiting and other illegal practices, greyhound racing has been banned in New South Wales, with Australian welfare groups calling for the sport to be outlawed nationally.
The decision to prohibit the sport was taken by the state government, with the state premier, Mike Baird, pointing to "chilling and horrific" evidence of animal cruelty within the sport.
Baird said an inquiry conducted by a special commission had found that the industry was incapable of reforming itself, leaving him no option but a ban, reports ABC.
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The commission found "widespread and systematic mistreatment of animals", said Baird. He added: "As a humane and responsible government, we are left with no acceptable course of action except to close this industry down."
The inquiry found that:
- Between 48,000 and 68,000 dogs had been killed over the past 12 years in the state because they were too slow, or otherwise surplus.
- Around 10 to 20 per cent of trainers were indulging in the illegal practice of 'live baiting', which involves tying live animals to the artificial lure which is mechanically moved around the track to encourage the dogs to race. Live possums, rabbits and other animals were sometimes used in training.
Greyhound Racing NSW, the local governing body, says the industry had been "left devastated" by the decision and said there are "many thousands of responsible participants who treat their greyhounds like family".
"These people were as dismayed as others by the exposure of completely unacceptable and inhumane practices within greyhound racing," it said, adding that it had been committed to reforming the sport.
UK animal charities have long called for reform of the sport. The League Against Cruel Sports wants "tougher laws" to protect racing dogs, claiming that "thousands of surplus dogs die or disappear every year".
Some organisations have even called for a ban. A Manchester-based group, Caged North West, is petitioning the government and has so far collected around 26,000 signatures.
Earlier this year, the Manchester group held a peaceful protest at Manchester Airport over fears that greyhounds were being shipped from the UK to China, the Daily Mirror reported.
The group said China's only greyhound racing track, the Yat Yuen Canidrome, had a "deplorable welfare record". However, police could find no scheduled cargo flights from Manchester to China on the day of the protest.
The Greyhound Board of Great Britain says it "cares passionately about greyhound welfare and is committed to working to raise standards of care still further".
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