Sport

Canberra Greyhounds dismiss Shane Rattenbury's call to shut down industry

The voice of Canberra greyhound racing, Kel O'Rourke, says the industry is like the NRL - the "abhorrent" actions of a few is tarring everyone "with the same brush".

And O'Rourke is confident former minister for sport Shane Rattenbury's call to have greyhound racing shut down won't come to fruition.

Kel O'Rourke sees similarities between greyhound racing and the NRL - the actions of a few spoil it for the majority.
Kel O'Rourke sees similarities between greyhound racing and the NRL - the actions of a few spoil it for the majority. Photo: Graham Tidy

O'Rourke is a life member of the Canberra Greyhound club and has been calling their races for 32 years, but he doesn't train or own any greyhounds.

He said no one involved in greyhounds in the ACT had ever been found guilty of live baiting and a majority of people involved in the sport around Australia also had clean records.

O'Rourke said the industry had been taking action over the last 12 months, since an ABC Four Corners investigation revealed shocking footage of live baiting.

The NSW governing body, to which Canberra is affiliated, has tripled it's investment in its re-homing program, Greyhounds As Pets, restrictions have been introduced to decrease breeding by 47 per cent and former police officers have been employed as investigators.

Canberra has also installed a 24-hour surveillance system at the track, which allows them to check whether any illegal activities take place at their track.

"I think it's a little bit like the rugby league, just because you get one footballer that gets on the drink, acts up like Bill the goose - you can't generalise and say all rugby league players are tarred with the same brush and that's the same with the ACT as far as the trainers are concerned here," O'Rourke said.

"We've had a couple of irresponsible trainers and people associated within the industry in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, but up to date Canberra has a 100 per cent clean record and there's no one who's ever been charged in relation to animal cruelty and live baiting."

Even though there is no evidence ACT trainers were involved with illegal practices, given a majority of greyhounds raced in Canberra were brought from interstate there are concerns those visiting trainers could be.

In a statement last year, the ACT government revealed two suspended trainers - one from NSW and one from Victoria - had raced in Canberra in previous years.

Rattenbury's comments follow previous calls from the ACT Greyhound Support Network and the RSPCA to shut down the industry.

Protest rallies took place around Australia on Sunday, with O'Rourke saying about 90 people turned up in Canberra.

Canberra Greyhounds receive $1 million funding from the ACT government, which Rattenbury has also called for an end to.

But O'Rourke said they had three full-time employees, with many more part-time employed on race day.

He said the industry also brought tourism from interstate and helped provide other jobs in the ACT.

"I don't think the industry will close down, I think that's a pretty radical view," O'Rourke said.

"The racing and gaming minister Mick Gentleman, he's given his full support behind the club, he's got a good understanding of the greyhound industry.

"His position is to ensure the operations are conducted professionally and within the Territory laws and that's what's been happening."

18 comments

Comments are now closed