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Canberra Greyhound Racing Club launches legal action against RSPCA ACT over petition

The Canberra Greyhound Racing Club has launched legal action against the RSPCA ACT for publishing allegedly defamatory statements on its website.

Canberra Greyhounds  has also challenged the RSPCA and ACT Greens parliamentarian Shane Rattenbury to debate the issue.

The club sent a letter to the RSPCA on Tuesday demanding it take down its petition to ban greyhound racing in the ACT because of the six claims it makes about the industry in the ACT.

The RSPCA said Canberra Greyhounds:

  • provides no economic benefit to the community;
  • is surviving only because of significant government subsidies;
  • creates very few local jobs;
  • primarily supports participants from NSW;
  • is not regulated by our local government; and
  • has an appalling reputation for animal welfare.

The first and last allegations are particular sticking points for Canberra Greyhounds,  which points to its 37-year record of having no incidents of animal cruelty associated with the club since its inception.


Canberra Greyhounds secretary Debbie Collier said the board had wanted to work with the RSPCA on several initiatives, including setting up re-homing programs for retired dogs, but found themselves in a position where they had to clear their name.

Mrs Collier said the Canberra track was one of the safest tracks in Australia and the club had an "animal welfare strategy" to ensure that remained the case.

She also said the club employed 19 people directly and also supported about 50 local businesses, not to mention the business trainers brought from interstate.

An ACT government study in 2011 found every dollar of government funding removed from the greyhound industry led to a decrease in the ACT economy of between $1.42-$1.86.

"The six points are completely false. The [Canberra Greyhounds] board is of the opinion that everyone is entitled to their opinions, but when the RSPCA is saying we have a horrendous animal welfare record that's completely untrue," Mrs Collier said.

"The board thinks it's time that we defended ourselves. We would prefer if they would work with us, we have tried."

RSPCA ACT chief executive Tammy Ven Dange said she had "plenty of evidence" of all six allegations, but wasn't prepared to disclose it yet.

Ms Ven Dange claimed Canberra Greyhounds were using "threats and intimidation" to get her to do what they want.

"It's pretty naive to think that I didn't do significant research on this before I published that [petition] ... and that I have plenty of information to back that up," she said.

"I'm not afraid of going through this process because it will give me an opportunity to show everyone here in the community evidence of everything I've said."

Mr Rattenbury was open to a debate, but was opposed to the ACT government providing $1 million in funding to Canberra Greyhounds every year.

"While I am open to a public discussion on the issue, the Greens' position on greyhound racing is clear. The Greens do not support the greyhound industry as it exploits animals for profit," he said.

The NSW greyhound racing industry is being investigated for live baiting and killing dogs, but there's been no evidence it's happened in the ACT.