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Gone to the dogs: Greyhound racing ban necessary

By John Hargreaves - 18 July 2016 37

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It seems as though the community out there is a bit divided about the banning of greyhound racing in Canberra.

The weird thing is that the ACT Labor Government is taking the lead from the NSW Liberal Government and the NSW Labor Opposition is opposing that ban. I’m still waiting to find out what the local Libs position is. Maybe I missed something.

How we all reeled back in horror at the thought of live baiting to train the dogs to chase in a circle! The outrage was genuine and sustained. Then it kind of petered out.

I’m the pollie who was behind the banning of fireworks in Canberra, for those who don’t know. The reasons were that the fireworks were not the gunpowder of old but significant explosives, some in the industry here were involved in criminal activity, there was significant damage to persons and property and real time damage and death to animals, both domestic and native.

So, from that perspective, I was always going to be a supporter of banning any sport which has any element of animal cruelty attached to it. And yes, I have problems with horse racing, be it the gallops or harness racing. I am also a big supporter of banning circus animals, exotic or otherwise.

But I do try to have an objective look at the developments when something like this arises. Hard as it is.

On the one hand we have the ‘cruelty to animals’ perspective. These animals are bred to entertain us. We all go soft and mushy when entertained by animals, be they elephants doing tricks, or little cute furry things being cute. But we recoil from the reminder of the old days when human freaks populated the travelling shows around the country. The dwarfs, the bearded ladies, the conjoined twins. We don’t see this stuff anymore so why should we let the exploitation of defenceless animals continue? We have banned exotic animals in circuses in the ACT, so why stop there?

On the other hand, racing is a big business enterprise with many people earning a living off its back. As an aside though, I was told (and you have to be able to check these things and I couldn’t verify it) that most of the trainers whose dogs run around the track in the ACT come from elsewhere. I would imagine that horse racing is much the same though, so the impact of banning the sports here would have a greater impact in NSW than here.

I do wonder, and if anyone has information on this out there I’d be glad of it, just how many people in the ACT are reliant on the dog racing industry for their bread and butter as against those whose involvement is part-time and any ban would be transient.

So any decision to support or not the ban should rest on the competition between animal welfare and the acquisition of profit. For mine, it is an easy choice.

On the political level, I am white hot angry at the NSW Labor Party for even thinking of opposing the ban. Foley and Dastyari should hang their heads in shame. And Andrew Barr should go it alone if the NSW Parliament knocks it back.

Incidentally, I have two cats and they are not entertainment media. Firstly, they are as entertaining as my kids were but secondly, they run the place here. My child bride and I are merely servants to their wants and needs.

My cat Andy had fireworks strapped to him and he was set on fire. He awoke in me the need to do something. The thought that he or Susie could be strapped to a revolving fence to entice a dog to chase them is abhorrent. To replace them with a rabbit is not on either.

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I am a carnivore an intend to stay that way, but I am opposed to anything which brings pain to animals, such as fireworks, live export, circus animal entertainment and dog and horse-racing.

Call me a sook if you want but there it is!

What’s Your opinion?

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