Greens announce greyhound transition package as Canberra marches for killed racing dogs
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Greens announce greyhound transition package as Canberra marches for killed racing dogs

Subsidies to the ACT's greyhound industry will be redirected into animal welfare for a rehoming scheme for former racing dogs, and the dogs can be vaccinated and microchipped for free, under an ACT Greens proposal.

A package to transition the ACT's greyhound racing industry was launched by the Greens on Sunday, with the plan calling for an end to industry subsidies and for the money to instead be used to offer support to workers and greyhound owners to transition as the industry closes down.

The package would include offering support including food for greyhound foster carers, free desexing, payments to vets for initial checks and treatments, and removing requirements for muzzling.

"The greyhound racing industry in the ACT is small, exploitative and expensive," ACT Greens animal welfare spokeswoman Caroline Le Couteur said.

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Darren Bulmer with his rescue greyhound Bentley.

Darren Bulmer with his rescue greyhound Bentley. Credit:Rohan Thomson

"The greyhound racing industry is subsidised to the tune of $1 million every year. Now that we're committed to winding down this cruel industry, we need a plan that focuses on helping workers transition into new jobs and on the welfare of the greyhounds."

Ms Le Couteur said the package also included funding for those involved in the industry to retrain and plans for the public to have a say on the future of the Symonston racetrack.

The Greens package was launched the same day as dozens of dog-loving Canberrans held a peaceful rally and march for racing greyhounds that have been killed.

About 40 people attended the rally at Nara Park, organised by the Animal Justice Party as a part of a global event called "March for the Murdered Million".

March for the murdered million greyhounds at Nara park.

March for the murdered million greyhounds at Nara park. Credit:Rohan Thomson

"It is to commemorate the dogs that have been killed, bred, exploited within the greyhound racing industry so it's a mark of respect," Deborah Field from the Animal Justice Party said.

The ACT earlier this month followed the lead of NSW in announcing an end to greyhound racing.

Canberra Greyhound Racing Club spokesman Kel Watt said people within the club were animal lovers and were also disgusted by the reports of cruelty and animal welfare breaches.

He said the club, which has been operating for 37 years, had a "completely unblemished" record.

"They share the community's concerns, the community expectations and they want the harshest penalties available for anyone caught live baiting or caught treating their dogs cruelly and if that includes jail time, so be it," he said.

"They've been tarred with the brush of the bad eggs, which is a very small amount of people. The people that have done the wrong thing deserve to be punished."

Mr Watt warned there could potentially be hundreds of greyhounds in the ACT that may need to be euthanised if the racing industry was shut down.

"There is also a human cost involved – there are about 50 jobs directly and indirectly involved in the industry, there's people's livelihoods and they're not cruel to animals," he said.

"There is an excellent record of rehoming going on.

"However, for those in the Canberra area, Gunning and country NSW, there's trainers and breeders with hundreds of dogs and you can't keep hundreds of dogs as pets, so unless they're rehomed very quickly, we really fear the worst for them.

"If the greyhound industry shuts down on July 1 in NSW and ACT, as is expected, we're going to see thousands, up to 10,000, dogs put down very, very quickly."

Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury said the greyhound industry had no future.

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"Whether it's the live baiting, the so-called wastage of animals and the injuries that occur to animals in both racing and training, this is not an industry that we should continue to support," he said.

"It is an industry that is exploitive and one that should come to an end."

Natasha Boddy is a reporter at The Canberra Times.

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