MELBOURNE – [AAP]
The RSPCA expects more cases of trainers using live animals to train greyhounds to come to light.
Seventy greyhound trainers in Victoria, NSW and Queensland have been implicated in using live animals to `blood’ dogs, with 24 so far suspended.
RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker said it would likely be weeks rather than days before animal cruelty charges were laid.
‘It’s very complex and there’s a lot of people involved,’ Dr Walker told AAP.
‘There’s more and more evidence and tips coming to light that are really going to keep us occupied for quite some time.’
Industry bodies believe a minority of trainers have engaged in the illegal practice of live baiting but Dr Walker says the animal welfare group doesn’t share the belief that it’s isolated.
‘How could you possibly consider with the profile of these people and the geographical spread that Four Corners got lucky and got the only three spots in Australia. It’s ridiculous to suggest that.’
Peak body Greyhounds Australasia’s CEO Scott Parker said industry members were appalled by the footage shot by animal activists and anybody found guilty of live baiting shouldn’t be in the sport.
‘I don’t think there’s any doubt that the reputation of the industry today is tarnished and tarnished badly,’ he said.
‘It’s clearly unacceptable and clearly rejected by the industry.’
The RSPCA wants an independent authority to regulate the industry.
‘There’s so much money in this industry, it’s billions of dollars, it’s people’s livelihoods and they behave accordingly,’ Dr Walker said.
‘We need to make sure that the regulatory authority is quite separate and independent to the body that promotes greyhound racing.’
The industry’s controlling bodies say they are taking urgent action and want greater powers, mainly over surveillance and inspections, to stamp out animal cruelty.
Trainers found guilty of practising live baiting face a 10-year ban from the sport in Victoria but Greyhound Racing Victoria chairman Peter Caillard said the body would support a permanent ban.
‘It amazes me what people are capable of doing. That was disgusting.’
Mr Caillard also said he would support moves to strip trainers found guilty of live baiting of any prize money they had won.
‘We have instructed our lawyers to look at whether we can do it,’ he said.
The RSPCA wants a lifetime ban on owning animals and training licences revoked for life for anyone found guilty of live baiting.