Parton / Into dog racing’s grey area

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NEVER had much to do with greyhound racing; called a few dog meetings in Adelaide in the ‘90s, but I’ve only ever been to the Canberra track twice.

Mark Parton.
Mark Parton.
I don’t mind a punt, but I struggle putting money on an animal that doesn’t have anyone steering it.

Maybe I’m naïve, but I was surprised by the ABC TV “Four Corners” live-baiting revelations. What a mongrel of a way for people to try to earn a buck. They should never be involved with animals and I hope they’re all run out of the game.

Do we have any live baiting here in Canberra?

I’d like to give people the benefit of the doubt but Tammy Ven Dange, from the RSPCA ACT, isn’t as generous.

She’s been calling for the ACT Government to distance itself from greyhound racing and to cease funding the sport in any way shape or form. I spoke to Tammy on the radio last week and urged her to tell me what information she had regarding live baiting in the ACT. She has none.

“We’ve had plenty of tip offs, but nothing that was enough to bring about a prosecution,” she said.

“It’s happening all over the country, so why wouldn’t it be happening here?”

Tammy conceded that it’s possible that there is no live baiting occurring in the ACT.

Local trainer Alan Tutt was appalled.

“There is no live baiting in Canberra,” he told me. He said he loves his dogs and that he successfully rehomes them all after their racing days end.

I had a brief conversation with Chief Minister Andrew Barr about this last week. He indicated that the government pumps just shy of a million dollars a year into the greyhound industry and that there was no plan to change this.

I got a fascinating email from a listener soon after my chat with the Chief Minister.

Andy wrote:

“I lived and grew up in the Murrumbateman area in the late ‘70s and I would trap rabbits for their skins for pocket money.

“I would also trap rabbits using ferrets and sell the live rabbits to a guy down the road that owned greyhounds. I was unaware but you can only guess what he used them for. He would say if I caught him possums, he would pay me big dollars.

“If greyhound owners have ferrets you can guess what they are for.

“My dad is in his eighties and said he did the same as me when he was a kid, it’s been happening for many decades.”

I guess we can all make up our own minds.


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Mark Parton
Canberra Liberal MLA and former breakfast announcer on 2CC.


  1. I, like a lot of others watched the ‘Four Corners’ program in February when it aired the results of investigations conducted by Animals Australia & Animal Liberation Queensland into live animal bating in the Greyhound Racing Industry. The investigation not only exposed extreme cruelty to animals, but also criminal acts perpetrated by so called greyhound owners and trainers. We saw these people face the camera and lie to all of us saying that this ‘blood lust’ practice was not happening in the Industry today. Claiming that it does not happen here in the ACT would be a convenient way for the ACT Government and others (who have an invested interest in the game) from doing something now to end this cruelty and corruption.

    A Crowe

  2. I am heavily involved in the rescuing of greyhounds and live in the ACT. I would love for Mark to join me so he can see the cruelty of the industry. The four corners, I would have hoped, would teach us a big lesson, don’t trust what a greyhound trainer tells you. Of course they are going to tell you they look after the hound and don’t live bait. Does Mark seriously think they are going to tell him the truth??? it is also a very difficult thing to gather evidence on because these people are sneaky (all on their private property) and the RSPCA can’t just investigate every trainer in Canberra, they need good leads and evidence to warrant an investigation. But live baiting is only one aspect on why greyhound racing is a cruel industry. Mark, offer is open to come help with the rescuing of the greyhounds. Maybe you can offer your support as a foster???? Or adopt???? We are never short on greyhounds needing a home. Maybe you can take one of the hounds who have been starved, or a hound who is so timid you have to train it to not crouch down anytime you talk or move your arms, or maybe a hound who needs care for its coat that is so disgusting from sleeping on concrete. If you lack experience in these areas, happy to give you a hound that has come from a trainer who has not treated the hound poorly, but has only disposed of it because it is too slow, adding to the thousands of hounds euthanised each year. I might add another aspect to gambling, it ruins families and it is an addiction for some people. I don’t understand how anybody can support this industry or try justify it.

  3. Mark Parton, I urge you to look a bit deeper, beyond the question of whether live baiting occurs or not in the ACT. (By the way, it is becoming abundantly clear that it does across Australia, and that it is not just a few bad apples or rogue elements in the industry.)

    I would like you to look at the wider animal welfare issues that are rife in the industry and that have similarly been brought to the attention of regulators in the industry, including by 4 Corners in the last year or so. Any greyhound rescue group will be able to tell you about the state of many of the abandoned greyhounds that come into their care, and share the knowledge of the ones that don’t because there aren’t enough foster carers or kennels to save the ones that don’t go to the industry funded GAP programs and are killed.

    I’d love to tell you about the 15 fosters I have had since June 2014, via Greyhound Rescue NSW, and how I feel about our governments subsidising this industry and the industry failure to ensure that ALL greyhounds have a successful retirement (and one that doesn’t include euthanasia). Greyhounds, by the way, are classified as livestock, which means they can be killed by gunshot or blunt force to the head.

    I would like you to look into why greyhound rescue groups are needed at all, when there is a funded GAP program ( that charges more to surrender a greyhound that it is to have it killed) and has dubious rates of re-homing compared to the numbers of retired greyhounds. Many caring people spend their own money on saving greyhounds.

    They were all saying there was no live baiting prior to the 4 Corners program. It’s pretty clear now that there is. There is also drugging of dogs and mass killings of the industry’s “wastage”. There is also the quiet disposal of many hounds one by one.

    I am sure there are many trainers and owners who do love and take care of their greyhounds and are equally horrified by ALL of the injustices that occur to the greyhounds themselves. Unfortunately, based on recent media reports it would appear that they are in the minority.

    I applaud your personal position to not support the greyhound racing industry – like you said, it’s not like they have a choice in it. They may well like to run, but racing for profit and entertainment is another thing entirely.

    I urge you to look deeper, and not fall into the same trap we humans often do (Tell me it isn’t so, and I’ll believe you).

    J Slater

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