Australia outrage at greyhound 'live baiting' footage

A rabbit is attached to the lure on a greyhound track to be used as live bait Image copyright Animals Australia & Animal Liberation Qld
Image caption Some of the animals used as bait were hung upside down before being flung around the track

Australia's greyhound racing industry is facing outrage after a television report showing illegal live baiting during training sessions.

An ABC Four Corners report showed live piglets, possums and rabbits being chased and eventually killed by dogs.

Greyhounds Australasia has begun an urgent review of animal welfare.

Industry authorities in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have suspended more than 20 people after raids on properties last week.

They were carried out after ABC handed over its footage ahead of Monday's broadcast.

Live baiting is outlawed but some trainers believe it gives their dogs an advantage in races.

'Profoundly disturbing'

The footage was secretly filmed at training tracks in Queensland and Victoria.

Some of the video showed struggling animals being flung around a mechanical lure before being torn apart by greyhounds. One possum was spun on the lure for almost an hour.

The footage also captured trainers apparently discussing ways of disposing of unwanted dogs, which is against racing regulations.

Image copyright Animals Australia & Animal Liberation Qld
Image caption Animal rights group have called for an end to industry self-regulation

"What we have documented is sickening, shocking and profoundly disturbing, not only because of the horrific cruelty, but because of the human behaviour that is revealed," said Lyn White from Animals Australia, which helped gather the footage.

There has been condemnation from senior figures in Australia's greyhound industry.

In a statement, Greyhounds Australasia Chief Executive Scott Parker described the footage as "appalling", and called the use of live animals "disgusting, illegal, unethical and totally rejected by the industry".

Darren Condon, the CEO of Racing Queensland, said immediate action would be taken against individuals implicated.

Peter Caillard, chair of Greyhound Racing Victoria, said the use of live bait was "abhorrent and has no place in our sport".

"Any person engaged in live baiting can expect to be disqualified and prosecuted," he said, but added that he believed the practice was not widespread, and was isolated to one private facility in Victoria.

Depending on state laws, someone convicted of animal cruelty in Australia can face a jail term of between one and five years, and a substantial fine.

The Victoria state government has announced two separate investigations into the greyhound racing industry.

Animals Australia and Animal Liberation Queensland, who also helped make the report, have called for an end to greyhound industry self-regulation.

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