How the wind changes! In July we rejoiced over an optimistic, courageous decision; now that decision has been blown away, overturned. One could understand this if mistakes had been made, but this one seems to have come about because of the evils and temptations of pressure, power and money.
On 7 July, I was so excited; it was a momentous date for animal welfare, with the NSW Premier Mike Baird announcing that greyhound racing will cease from 1 July 2017.
Many animal welfare groups and animal lovers around the country celebrated, and hoped that things would change in their own state or territory. It was also a day when many citizens believed that politicians were individuals of integrity, that they were brave, and were willing to take a stand that would be unpopular with the powerful.
Premier Baird became a hero in many eyes, and his decision would have eased the pain and starvation found in the glassy eyes of hundreds of greyhounds.
This was a politician, who was willing to stand up for the voiceless, for the abused, to say that the slaughter of between 48,000-68,000 greyhounds was not acceptable, and not only SHOULD be stopped but WOULD be stopped.
Last week many countries celebrated World Animal Day (same date as the Feast of St Francis, 4 October); churches held Blessing of the Animals to observe the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. Today’s overturned decision is definitely not a blessing for animals.
This reversal has happened AFTER another report of animal cruelty. Yesterday a Cabramatta greyhound trainer was convicted of animal cruelty offences, thought to be connected with live-baiting. The owner has been charged with torture/beating, causing the death of an animal and using an animal for training greyhounds. How can there be trust that there will be change for the better?
The Premier has said that tough measures will be introduced, including capping breeding to 2000, reducing the number of tracks, reducing the number of race events, and having a $1500 bond for every dog bred. Are these measures really going to make a difference? Or have they been implemented to save face for a government going back on its word?
The date 11 October will be remembered as a black day for animal welfare; a day when promises were broken, when peer pressure won over courage, and when the skins of greyhounds were worth less than saving one’s own.
What can we do? If you are on social media, text, tweet. Phone or send an email to your local member. Check what actions will be taken by animal welfare groups (such as protests, writing campaigns). Donate to Greyhound Rescue and find out what you can do. Lobby your local church to take a stand. Pray. All these actions, of course, follow that of weeping… and weeping… for the throttling of a dream, for the dream is now followed by the nightmare hell of continual abuse, cruelty and death of God’s creatures, the beautiful greyhounds.
Rev Barbara Allen
Spirituality and Creation Project Worker
Image: Liz West/Flickr