Live bait claims rock Australian greyhound racing

Live bait claims rock Australian greyhound racing
Like horse races, the greyhounds are paraded around before the start of the race for punters to judge, after which, they are set to chase after an electric-powered stuff rabbit.

Australia's greyhound racing industry was in damage control Tuesday after secret footage showed live piglets, rabbits and possums used as bait to train some of the country's most successful dogs.

An Australian Broadcasting Corporation investigation showed the animals being fixed to mechanical lures before being chased and mauled to death during training sessions.

A lure is traditionally an artificial hare or rabbit.

The animal welfare group RSPCA, in conjunction with police in the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, raided five properties last week after the ABC handed over its evidence ahead of the programme being broadcast on Monday evening.

Australia has one of the largest greyhound industries in the world and live baiting has been banned and criminalised for decades.

RSPCA Australia chief executive Heather Neil said the practice appeared to be an entrenched culture where animal cruelty was seen by some as an accepted cost of the sport.

"If it is this widespread in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, it would be naive to think it isn't happening elsewhere," she said in a statement.

"The callous disregard for animal suffering shown by individuals captured in this footage should see the state and territory racing bodies immediately suspending the trainers and others implicated." Greyhounds Australasia chief executive Scott Parker said 23 people had been suspended as he ordered an urgent independent review of all systems relating to animal welfare and integrity.

"I am appalled at some of the footage shown on the Four Corners programme," he said.

"The use of live animals to train greyhounds is disgusting, illegal, unethical and totally rejected by the industry." The maximum penalty for animal cruelty is two years jail and a Aus$30,000 (S$32,000) fine.

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