THE CEO of the RSPCA ACT, Tammy Ven Dange, has continued her campaign of lies and deceit in “CityNews” (letters, December 1, “Watching out for greyhounds”) by saying animal welfare in ACT greyhound racing is a concern.
The fact is that for the entire 37 years of the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club’s (CGRC) operations, the club has built an unblemished animal welfare record.
While Ms Ven Dange used her letter to make claims designed to alarm readers, the facts do not support her.
Specifically, her claim that racing is “self-regulated” is wrong. The CGRC must adhere to ACT laws, including the Racing and Gaming Act and Animal Welfare legislation. The ACT has two Ministers directly responsible for the CGRC’s operations. The CGRC is also governed by a lease with the Commonwealth and an MOU with the ACT government.
The CGRC also dedicates its entire government funding to animal welfare and integrity measures. Her claim that only 10 per cent is directed this way is false.
Her suggestions that transparency is not of the utmost importance are defamatory. Swabs are conducted at every single race meet, with all reports published online. Every member of the public is able to access reports via a login, available from the CGRC upon request. The club also publishes other information above and beyond that required by regulation.
Animal welfare is the CGRC’s top priority. That is why a vet is on site for every race meet. The vet inspects every greyhound thoroughly and individually, and has the final say on any matter, despite Ms Ven Dange’s claims otherwise.
Finally, all readers should know the CGRC has made multiple approaches to the RSPCA in the last two years, including personally to Ms Ven Dange, to work on animal-welfare matters. The CGRC has numerous animal-welfare projects that we hoped the RSPCA could advise on, including a socialisation yard available to all members of the public at no cost. She refused to even meet.
The CGRC also asked the RSPCA for its support for our long-standing policy position of raising animal-cruelty penalties to the toughest in Australia. It fell on deaf ears.
By contrast, other RSPCA state branches around Australia are actively and positively working on reform and animal welfare with other greyhound racing bodies.
After more than a year of Ms Ven Dange running a dishonest campaign against the greyhound racing community in Canberra, we understand public sentiment may be against us.
We love our pets and our pets love to run. Nearly 50 local jobs and 30 Canberra trainers are devoted to nurturing beautiful and gentle dogs in a safe training and racing environment. All of us have a zero tolerance to any animal cruelty.
Think about it. Our greyhounds are basically professional athletes. That’s how we treat them. How many suburban pets are seen by a vet on a more than weekly basis and have regular inspections and strict regulations governing everything from their sleeping space to how much they weigh?
The CGRC has an open-invitation policy. Anyone who wishes to get the facts, inspect our top-class facilities or witness welfare and integrity measures first hand. You can organise a tour or even just drop in.
We have made this offer to Ms Ven Dange, but she is yet to accept. It suggests to me she is more concerned about raising her profile than she is about raising animal welfare standards.