By Lauchlan Eggins
The son of a second generation greyhound racing family believes that the recently announced ban on dog racing in NSW will be devastating for rural towns.
Greg Wilson’s family have been training and racing greyhounds since they moved to the town of Lithgow over three decades ago. The races which are held every Saturday afternoon became a family tradition and staple in their weekly lives.
Last month premier Mike Baird announced that greyhound racing will be banned in New South Wales as of July 1st 2017. After a special commission inquiry reported a formidable amount of evidence displaying extensive mistreatment and animal abuse within the greyhound racing industry.
The announcement and ban follows an exposé made by the ABC’s current affairs program Four Corners in 2015. Which uncovered the use of live baiting by trainers as a means of enthusing the dogs to perform better. Piglets, rabbits, and possums were used to encourage the dogs to run faster, after which the live bait animals would be mauled and killed.
Greg Wilson argues that the decision to ban greyhound racing will not only damage the economic state of rural towns in the central west but also affect mateship and comradery in the areas.
“It brings people together, it’s a tradition in the town to bring the family down or go with your mates and watch the races and have a laugh”, Says Wilson.
The commission gathered evidence from a number of witnesses with some stating that up to 90 per cent of greyhound trainers have engaged in live baiting, while others said it was between 10 and 20 per cent.
Wilson believes that these numbers are incorrect stating that the number is much lower than the commission claims.
“Yes there are those in the industry which use live baiting but it’s nowhere near as many as they’re reporting. I know my family has never resorted to it and I’d say the true number is closer to less than 10%”, says Wilson.
The commission also reported that over the past 12 years 50 to 70 per cent of greyhound’s bread for racing were killed once they are no longer able to compete at a competitive peak. Wilson states that his family has never killed a dog once they were no longer competing, but either sold them or had them adopted.
According to a study published by the NSW Institute for educational research, greyhound racing in the central west has grossed revenue of $9.9 million and employees 1126 people across the region, Wilson states that the ban is going to have a noticeably harmful effect on rural areas, particularly his home town of Lithgow
“I can see why they’ve made the decision but it’s an overreaction, they should have only targeted those found to be practicing live baiting. A lot of people are employed by the industry and going to the races can be the highlight of people’s week”, says Wilson.
As of July 1st 2017 greyhound racing will be banned in NSW, however greyhound owners and trainers from NSW are free to compete in events held in other states and territories.