ACT News

Canberra Greyhound Racing Club to install more cameras after live baiting scandal

The Canberra Greyhound Racing Club hopes to invest $30,000 in a new security system to strengthen its bid to prevent illegal live baiting, adamant the scandal revealed last week is not a problem in Canberra, as it braces to lose sponsors and support.

The club says one of its staff was spat on by a member of the public last week,  after an ABC's Four Corners investigation into live baiting, which aired footage of animals being killed in training sessions in Queensland, Victoria and NSW.

Greyhounds compete in at the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club on Sunday.
Greyhounds compete in at the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club on Sunday. Photo: Melissa Adams

Canberra officials are confident there is no illegal activity in the capital, but one sponsor has already withdrawn financial support, and prize money is expected to take a hit as greyhound racing attempts to rebuild its reputation. 

Canberra Greyhound Racing Club chairman Ron Peck condemned the actions of trainers interstate, calling for anyone involved in live baiting to be banned for life and for the sport to become more transparent in its operations.

The club's board will hold an extraordinary board meeting on Tuesday, with Peck to table plans for a $30,000 security upgrade to ensure there is no untoward activity at the only greyhound racing and training venue in the capital.

ACT government officials met the club last week, asking for records dating back to 1979 as the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission launches its own investigation.

Peck and Canberra's representative on the Greyhounds Australasia Board, Garry Collier, spoke out on Sunday, distressed about the "disgraceful" actions of interstate trainers and detailing their hopes of rebuilding respect for greyhound racing.

"[Live baiting] has never happened here and if it ever does, those involved will never see the track again," Peck said.

"We want to put cameras everywhere. We've already got good CCTV coverage, but if anyone comes in here to do anything illegal, they'll be caught. This is an upgrade of what is already in place.

Peck alleged a staff member one of the club's staff was spat on at the Westfield Woden (formerly the Woden Plaza) after the Four Corners episode last week. The matter was not reported to police.

"What happened was an absolute disgrace. But one of our staff members left [the club] in a Canberra greyhound club shirt, he went into the Woden Plaza and was spat on and told that he was an 'f------ animal'. That's a bit low, spitting on someone.

"We understand how everyone is feeling - we were disgusted with it as well - but spitting on someone is unacceptable."

On Sunday, the Canberra club held its first race meeting since the sport was thrown into turmoil last Monday, when trainers were caught using live animals as bait to train their dogs.

A few hundred spectators, owners and trainers turned up for the 10-race regular Sunday meet.

The proposed security upgrade for the racing facility will cover all training tracks and racing tracks.

There are about 200 Canberra Greyhound Racing Club members and about 20 trainers who have access to the training facilities every week.

"Sponsors are pulling out; we've already lost one and another is thinking about pulling out," Collier said.

"It's going to take a long while before the sport can rebound. It's going to take time. A few bad apples ruin the basket for everyone.

"It's about transparency of what goes on here. We want better CCTV, so that it's basically infallible to do anything illegal. The RSPCA can come in and view it all.

"The majority of greyhound owners look after their animals perfectly, but what happened is a disgraceful situation. There has never been anything here on this track where there has been a problem."

The Canberra club is part of Greyhound Racing NSW, whose board was sacked last week following the live baiting revelations.

Canberra greyhound trainers get their licence from Greyhound Racing NSW.

Records show none of the trainers caught in the Four Corners investigation have ever raced their dogs in Canberra.

Peck, 66, has been involved in racing since he was 10 and helps find foster homes for greyhounds when their racing careers finish.

"This is the toughest time for the sport. I was disgusted the other night. In Canberra we have zero tolerance to animal cruelty and live baiting; it simple does not happen here at our track.

"[Greyhound Racing NSW] have dropped the ball, and we will work closely with the new interim board, and the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission, and we will implement any measures they put forward to ensure live baiting and animal cruelty is eliminated from the sport."

Collier, who has been involved in greyhound racing for 42 years, said: "There's no ifs or buts now. People have to get life if they get caught."