Image for Gone to the dogs ...

It was 30 years ago and I was not long back from five years or so in Pomland. I was working part-time as “Southern Features Editor” of the now-defunct Tasmanian Mail with the illustrious Jan Haswell commanding the ship from Launi; and the ex-London Sun, now-long-dead Tony Adams as Chief-Sub.

The Tasmanian Mail was a freebie home-delivered to every home in Tassie. It had been launched - memorably -  a few years before high over the skies of Tassie ... and was a wonderfully eccentric and idiosyncratic newspaper with a couple of genius journos heading it up.

It was an offshoot of The Examiner.

My job as Southern Features Editor based in Hobart was to put together ad-features and provide the Splash (main story) every week.

I got a tip that greyhounds were being blooded in the horrific manner described by Four Corners last night.

I wrote a story which highlighted the particular horror; but vague enough (I thought) to be not specific enough for any particular trainers to be identified. Unfortunately I was still in London-mode ... and made a reference to greyhound trainers in Geeveston or Brighton or wherever ... thinking ... well there are dozens ...

There weren’t. Next day I was confronted in my little office by a very large expletive-hurling gentleman expressing a profound desire to dismember me in a manner not unlike the blooded greyhounds.

The dismemberment was avoided ... just ... the memory is still extremely stark ...

• Andrew Wilkie: Integrity of greyhound industry gone to the dogs ...

The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, is calling for an immediate suspension of greyhound racing nationally after Four Corners last night revealed the illegal and barbaric use of live baits in the training of dogs is still widespread.

Mr Wilkie said the use of live baits including rabbits, piglets and possums was abhorrent from an animal cruelty perspective, but it also destroyed the integrity of Australia’s $4-billion greyhound racing gambling industry.

``Animals Australia and Animal Liberation Queensland have found evidence of live baiting in at least Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales and implicated 70 individuals, including leading trainers and dog breakers, in this illegal practice,’’ he said.

``This means there are thousands of greyhounds racing in Australia that have been trained illegally to get an unfair edge.

``This calls into question the entire greyhound industry which must be shut down immediately so the dogs and trainers can be identified and disqualified and the industry cleaned up. 

``The barbaric and illegal activity is clearly widespread and investigations must be launched in all states and territories.

``Self-regulation has clearly failed and governments must take over the regulation of the greyhound industry if the public is to have any confidence in its integrity and animal-welfare standards.

``Many people quite rightly find the whole notion of greyhound racing abhorrent, not least because 18,000 dogs are destroyed annually just because they can’t run fast enough. Frankly I think the so-called sport should be banned outright.

``But if governments are going to allow it to continue, then the onus is squarely on those governments to ensure the industry is not corrupt and that the cruelty is at least minimised.’’

Mr Wilkie also called for the suspension of generous taxpayer handouts to the industry – which in his home state of Tasmania shares in a $27-million 20-year funding deal from the State Government. 

``There is no reason to think the Tasmanian industry is any better than on the mainland nor good reason for taxpayers to bankroll it.’’

He said the industry must also guarantee the safety and welfare of dogs consequently disqualified from racing due to the use of the illegal training method of live baiting.

Cassy O’Connor: Greyhound cruelty needs independent investigation

End greyhound racing ...