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'Heartbreaking': nine greyhounds found in mass grave in Sydney

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From The Guardian



'Heartbreaking': nine greyhounds found in mass grave in Sydney

Other greyhounds found alive but emaciated on the property of a licensed trainer

Warning: the story contains graphic images

Naaman Zhou

Thu 12 Jul 2018 17.38 AEST Last modified on Thu 12 Jul 2018 19.27 AES

emaciated greyhound

A sick and emaciated greyhound discovered at a property in Sydney. Photograph: RSPCA

Nine greyhounds have been discovered in a mass grave in Sydney, along with 12 greyhounds that are alive but emaciated and diseased, on the property of a licensed trainer and breeder.

The chief inspector for RSPCA NSW, Andrew Clachers, said the greyhounds had been held in appalling conditions on the property in Marsden Park in Sydney’s north-west until they were discovered this month.

“Some of them have such horrendous dental disease that you could actually smell the rotting in their mouths,” he said. “The compression sores and the condition they were in – it’s heartbreaking.

“Some of the kennels were just hopeless. Inspectors had to open some with a hammer. They were rundown. They were not in a fit state.

“To chuck them in a pit and treat them like disposable rubbish – it shocks me and I’ve been investigating in animal cruelty for 10 years.”

The state’s new greyhound regulatory body, the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission – which was set up as part of an industry-wide reform – said it would investigate the matter together with the RSPCA.

At the time the greyhounds were discovered, the owner of the property had a valid greyhound licence. Guardian Australia understands the property was inspected in September last year, and was approved by the commission’s precursor, Greyhound Racing NSW.

Mass grave

Mass grave A mass grave of greyhounds discovered at the property, which belongs to a licensed trainer. Photograph: RSPCA

However, a GWIC spokeswoman could not explain how the property was approved, how long the owner had had his licence, or if he had any previous infractions.

“Legally, no further comment can be made, as investigations are ongoing,” she said.

A special inquiry into NSW greyhound racing in 2016 found up to 68,000 “uncompetitive” greyhounds had been killed since 2004 and one in five trainers used live animal baits.

Repeated discoveries of mass greyhound graves prompted the NSW government to ban greyhound racing, before then-premier Mike Baird reversed the decision in October 2016.

He also established the independent GWIC to take over the regulatory functions of Greyhound Racing NSW – an industry group – on 1 July.

In November 2017, the Australian Capital Territory banned greyhound racing, becoming the first state or territory to do so.

Clachers said he found the continued abuse of greyhounds astonishing.

“To have all this still happening with all that we know about the reform process and the industry [being] given a real clear message from the community – for this to still happen, we still have a long way to go,” he said.

“We are astonished that we are still pulling greyhound bodies out of mass graves. There is an element of people for whom no amount of regulation is going to stop people from this kind of conduct.”

On Thursday the NSW racing minister, Paul Toole, said there was “zero tolerance” for animal abuse and said offenders “will be caught”.

“There is zero tolerance for such abhorrent behaviour and those who engage in it can expect to be removed from the industry and face criminal prosecution,” he said.

He added that he believed the GWIC was doing a good job at regulating the industry.

“The Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission formally assumed its powers on 1 July and its staff are already attending race meets and conducting investigations,” Toole said. “The government has been fortunate to appoint high-calibre people to the commission.”

But NSW Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi said the findings proved “nothing has changed” in the greyhound racing industry.

“This incident just shows that the second chance given to the industry was a huge mistake and all the promises they made to end the cruelty lack any kind of credibility,” she said. “This is not yet another bad apple. This is evidence of continued systemic cruelty.”

All the greyhounds are now in the care of the RSPCA and are being treated by veterinary surgeons.


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This makes me angry for other reasons. Appalling conditions don't suddenly happen overnight. Rundown kennels deteriorate over time. Emaciation, pressure sores and rotting teeth don't instantly appear either - they are gradual declines that have repeated opportunities to be addressed if an owner cares enough. This is the same bullshit the RSPCA pulls. Puppy farms pass inspections and all of a sudden 100 critically ill animals are pulled from deplorable conditions. How? In this instance, 10 months after passing an inspection 9 greyhounds are dead and another 12 have been seriously neglected and apparently the conditions they are living in has become appalling. Again, how? How did they pass last year? How has so much bad happened mysteriously? Or were there issues that were not rectified and followed up on again by inspectors? If so what is the point? 


We now have two governing bodies failing these dogs. Great job. Things should not have to get to the point of animals lives being lost or in danger of being lost for governing bodies to start taking their responsibilities seriously.

Edited by Little Gifts
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Same old, same old.

There are industry participants who are claiming that this is a beat-up by the RSPCA, and that the trainer was an elderly man in poor health. Clearly not so poorly that he couldn't dig a sizeable hole though. 

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