Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) Chairman, Ray Gunston, has welcomed the Racing Integrity Commissioner (RIC) and Chief Veterinary Officer’s (CVO) final reports into live baiting that were tabled in Victorian parliament today by Minister for Racing Martin Pakula and Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford.
“We thank the Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna and Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Charles Milne for their work in compiling these reports and appreciate the context of their recommendations,” Mr Gunston said.
“In principle we accept the direction of their recommendations and will continue to work with the government, the industry and its participants, and other stakeholders to ensure that the necessary and appropriate changes are implemented to secure the future of the industry.
“Having just received both documents, we are in the process of fully examining the reports and will provide a more detailed response as soon as we can. There are clearly many details to be worked through in relation to these recommendations, particularly in relation to timing.
“It is vital that the entire greyhound racing community accept the need for change to ensure this industry prospers into the future. Ultimately this requires full compliance with well researched and clearly understood integrity and welfare standards.
“Greyhound racing provides a livelihood for thousands of Victorians and thousands more enjoy the sport as a recreational pursuit. GRV is committed to solidifying greyhound racing’s place in the Victorian sporting and economic landscape.
“There was an environment that existed where this shameful act occurred and went undetected. There is no doubt more work needs to be done to ensure we are able to prevent and/or detect such barbaric behaviours. GRV is committed to the strengthening of its operations and animal welfare and integrity standards within GRV itself and across the Victorian greyhound racing industry.”
Change has begun in the Victorian Greyhound Racing Industry
GRV has been working closely with both Ministers’ offices, the RSPCA, RIC and CVO to assist their investigations over the past four months and acted quickly to address the recommendations in the RIC’s interim report.
In February, GRV accepted all six recommendations in the RIC’s interim report. These recommendations reinforced the need for existing work on improvements to the integrity of greyhound racing to continue and served as a catalyst for new initiatives.
Following investigations by GRV Stewards 17 persons have been suspended in relation to live baiting allegations emerging from the Tooradin Trial Track. So far, nine registered persons have been issued with charges relating to the alleged breaches of the GRV Local Racing Rules and Greyhounds Australasia Rules. The independent Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board (RADB) have conducted one hearing so far, resulting in one registered person being found guilty. The RADB’s decision on penalty in that particular case has been deferred until a later date. Investigations by GRV Stewards into the remaining matters are continuing.
The GRV Stewards investigation concern breaches of the greyhound racing rules while any potential criminal charges under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (POCTA) Act are under the remit of the RSPCA.
Below is a summary of some the actions undertaken by GRV recently:
- Greater powers for GRV officers have been sought via changes to the Racing Act and specialist appointments under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
- In-depth review of all property inspection procedures and documentation processes.
- Industry census of more than 13,000 registered participants to catalogue the roles of all persons and facilities used in the education of greyhounds in Victoria.
- Investigation into Trial Track operations and ownership and the feasibility of permanent surveillance equipment at these training establishments.
- Implemented changes to the GRV operating system to further segment roles in the industry.
- Significant testing of various lure arms, lure types and alternative lure operation methods, in addition to an interstate and international data review, to identify alternative methods to have greyhounds perform at their best.
- Scoping of expanded training program for trainers and breeders to ensure industry knowledge and skills remain contemporary.
- Amended rules and operating procedures to allow greater control of greyhound transfers between participants.
- Interactions with relevant animal welfare groups to seek agreement as to the appropriate means for the timely exchange of information and immediate reporting of alleged and suspected acts of animal cruelty in the Victorian greyhound racing industry.
“The work already undertaken as a result of the interim report will be built-upon following review of the final reports. It is clear that GRV’s enforcement capabilities need to improve to ensure that behaviours such as live baiting will not even be contemplated,” GRV Chairman Ray Gunston said.
Government Media Release
Chief Veterinary Officer Report
Racing Integrity Commissioner Report