Trainers hope inquiry will change greyhound racing industry
GRAFTON-based greyhound trainers Warren and Sonia Kempshall have welcomed the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into greyhound racing in the hopes the racing industry will be "cleaned up".
They are not convinced, however, that all of the evidence put forward so far is accurate.
Mr Kempshall said the couple had followed the inquiry closely since it started on Monday, and disputed that the industry was responsible "for the unnecessary deaths of anywhere between 13,000 and 17,000 healthy greyhounds a year, as acknowledged by Greyhounds Australasia.
He said the numbers did not reflect the number of dogs that had been re-homed or given away.
"Over the last six months, figures of many greyhounds have been put down vary from 5000 to 20,000," he said.
The couple has been outspoken in their opposition to live baiting, and Mr Kempshall said they had a strong policy of re-homing their dogs when they were retired or unsuitable for racing.
The last one was re-homed to a lady in Grafton just two weeks ago, he said.
But they have not been exempt from animal welfare inquiries.
In June the family was ordered to get rid of their chooks and guinea pigs after the RSPCA visited their property at Sandy Crossing.
They were also told if they wanted to keep their pet pigeons, which are looked after by their young son, they would have to be registered, microchipped and subject to an autopsy when they died.
"They were frightened we might give them to our dogs and basically accused us of live baiting," Mr Kempshall said.
"I said I am part of the industry but not the part you're chasing."
Mr Kempshall said he had, several times, invited animal activists to stay at their house free of charge for two weeks and see first hand how their dogs were treated.
"(Animal activists) have been condemning people who've done nothing wrong," he said.
"If somebody in my family sold ice to kids, would you condemn the whole family? We don't agree with any sort of animal cruelty; my little bloke goes and lay down in the kennel with his dogs and has a snooze with them.
"I couldn't count on my fingers how many people I've seen with tears flowing when their dogs have had an accident on the track and had to be euthanised. There is no voice for us."
Mr Kempshall said he felt the greyhound industry was in definite need of an overhaul, but to shut it down would be a step too far.
"An overhaul of the industry would be the best thing to happen," he said.
"Unfortunately I think the industry has been let down mainly by governing authorities. They never really pressured anybody to change anything or do anything different and now they're up in arms.
"If they had have done their job 10 or 15 years ago that wouldn't have happened.
"We just want it up and running to the extent where everyone is happy with greyhound racing community.
"We want the industry to be clean and good."
Grafton Greyhound Racing Club secretary Brad Ellis said he was not prepared to form an opinion or make any comment on the inquiry until all of the findings were revealed.
"It's like someone being put on trial without knowing all the facts - you can't make an assessment or judgement based on 5% of the information," he said.