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Live baiting trainers should be jailed: race club manager

UPDATE 3.15pm: MANAGER of the Lismore Greyhound Racing Club Lisa Vanderstok says she hopes any trainers found guilty of live baiting are jailed.

Speaking from the Molesworth St track this afternoon, Ms Vanderstok said she had been rocked by the bloody evidence against senior trainers in the industry over the practice, which involves tying possums, pigs and rabbits to lures and using them as bait for unmuzzled dogs.

"I'm horrified… absolutely disgusted," she said.

"It was very hard to go to work today."

Ms Vanderstok has been in the industry for about 12 years and said she honestly believed most trainers were being tarred by the brush of the scandal and it wasn't widespread because it simply didn't make sense as a method to improve a dog's performance.

"It's absolutely floored me… in this day and age that people are capable of doing this," she said.

"I hope they go to jail.

"I think that's what they deserve.

"I don't think banning them is enough."

Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) has announced the establishment of a taskforce with wide ranging powers to investigate the extent of live baiting within the NSW greyhound racing industry.

GRNSW Chief Executive Brent Hogan said he was disgusted with the images shown and hoped those featured in tonight's program were punished to the full extent of the law.

"There is no place whatsoever for animal cruelty of any kind in our sport. Animal cruelty is totally unacceptable and anyone found guilty of a cruelty offence is not welcome in the sport," Mr Hogan said.

"Live baiting is a cruel, abhorrent and archaic practice and anyone found engaging in this act needs to be punished to the full extent of the law.

"Live baiting is illegal under the Greyhound Racing Rules as well as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Anyone found guilty of the offence facing up to five years in jail and a $22,000 fine under the Act.

"Tonight's Four Corners program did not reflect the actions of the majority involved in the sport and the tremendous progress the industry has made in the areas of animal welfare, integrity and eradicating animal cruelty in recent years," he said.

UPDATE 11.30am: A SECOND trainer with connections to the Northern Rivers, has been named by Greyhound Racing NSW as under investigation over the live baiting scandal.

Greyhound Racing NSW chief steward Clint Bentley named Stephen Sherwell, formerly of Doubtful Creek, as being involved in an enquiry led by Racing Queensland over allegations he took part in the practice.

Mr Sherwell is now one of seven NSW trainers, and 23 Australia-wide who have been suspended over the matter prompted by last night's Four Corners episode.

The two locals, John Thompson and Mr Sherwell, will be investigated by Racing QLD for their involvement at a track at Churchable, between Ipswich and Toowoomba, owned by prominent trainer Tom Noble, where live baiting took place.

UPDATE 10.45am: MANAGER of the Casino Greyhound Racing Club Ron Herd said he is "shocked and disappointed" by evidence that live-baiting is practiced in his industry.

Mr Herd said the practice "shouldn't happen and as far as I'm aware it doesn't happen", at least on the North Coast.

He said he had never met Shannon Brook trainer John Thompson and Mr Thompson's dogs didn't race at Casino.

"I don't know the man at all."

The Four Corners episode aired last night featured Mr Thompson in a secret recording discussing inhumane methods for disposing of dead dogs' bodies and eagerly encouraging staff at a live-baiting track to smash a baby possum's head in so its distraught mother could be hooked to an arm lure as live bait for a dog.

The Shannon Brook trainer was visiting well-known Queensland trainer Tom Noble's track, between Toowoomba and Ipswich, when his voice was captured on the video recording.

The track was later raided by the RSPCA and Mr Noble's license has been suspended by Racing QLD.

Mr Thompson is of six NSW trainers now suspended from the industry, among 23 suspended across Queensland, NSW, and Victoria, according to the national regulator Greyhounds Australasia.

But Mr Herd argued that it was an "absolute minority" who engaged in the practice and believed it wouldn't "have any effect on our sport whatsoever".

"It won't have a lot of an effect on us here, we will survive and we'll keep going ahead."

Mr Herd said there were cheats in all sports.

"Sadly with the Four Corners it's just sensationalism, I'm disappointed with the video… it shouldn't happen and as far as I'm aware it doesn't happen."

 

UPDATE 9.15am: THE peak body for greyhound racing in NSW has confirmed to The Northern Star that Shannon Brook greyhound trainer John Thompson's license has been suspended following allegations he engaged in the banned practice of live-baiting.

A spokeswoman for Greyhound Racing NSW confirmed Mr Thompson's license was suspended at 10pm last night.

 

UPDATE 9am: NORTH Coast greyhound trainer, John Thompson, is among six people in NSW to have their licence suspended following last night's Four Corners expose on live baiting practices, it has been reported.

Shannon Brook trainer, Mr Thompson, was shown in the Four Corners episode to be among those allegedly involved in the illegal live baiting practices.

Greyhound Racing NSW, chief executive Brent Hogan, told the ABC Mr Thompson's licence had now been suspended.

"We stood that individual down last night," Mr Hogan told the ABC.

"His involvement only became known to us during the airing of that show.

"That was from an incident in Queensland, but we have stood him down and we'll work with our counterparts at Racing QLD to ensure that that matter is followed through."

 

INITIAL REPORT: A PROMINENT Northern Rivers greyhound trainer was one of several racing industry figures featured in last night's ABC's Four Corners expose on the banned practice of live-baiting.

The trainer's voice was captured on a secret camera installed by animal rights activists at a private Queensland track used specifically by trainers to engage in the barbaric practice.

Live-baiting involves using live pigs, possums, and rabbits as bait to "blood" greyhounds in an effort to encourage them to run faster.

They are typically torn apart by the usually gentle dogs after several agonising minutes.

It is both banned in the industry, and illegal. Several of the trainers and track staff involved in last night's episode could now face criminal charges.

The Four Corners episode featured graphic imagery of the practice at several training tracks in Queensland, NSW, and Victoria.

The local trainer will be contacted for comment.

Topics:  four corners greyhound racing live baiting


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