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  • Tough talk on animal cruelty

    2018 - 08.24

    THE state’s $15 million greyhound industry is set for a major shake-up, with the government set to toughen its own animal cruelty laws.

    Animal inspectors will be given the power to search and enter properties to obtain evidence, after a review of animal cruelty provisions within the industry was tabled in Parliament yesterday.

    The review found 486 dogs were destroyed in the 2013-14 racing season, and a further 267 so far this season, with many never having a racing career.

    Racing Minister Jeremy Rockliff said he had already acted on some issues raised in the report, but would now make further amendments to animal cruelty laws before Parliament.

    ‘‘These amendments relate to the powers of animal welfare officers to enter, search and inspect premises and to collect evidence of an offence, and to better define aggravated cruelty,’’ Mr Rockliff said.

    Tasracing chief executive Elliot Forbes said the organisation would this year review the Greyhound Adoption Program, looking at funding and staffing levels.

    ‘‘Tasracing acknowledges that GAP provides an important service to the industry, however, this does not diminish the requirement that owners must take life-long responsibility for their dogs,’’ Dr Forbes said.

    The report said GAP had rehomed 62 dogs last year, and 53 this year.

    It recommended races be programmed specifically for mature-aged and less able dogs to reduce ‘‘wastage’’.

    The report also recommended that incentives to breed be properly balanced with responsible breeding and welfare considerations.

    Under the changes announced yesterday, Racing Services will now be housed within the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment rather than State Growth.

    ‘‘This will ensure Racing Services Tasmania, as the racing regulator, can leverage off the animal welfare and veterinary skills available within DPIPWE to achieve better animal welfare and integrity outcomes,’’ Mr Rockliff said.

    Mr Rockliff said the report would inform the parliamentary inquiry proposed by Denison Greens MHA Cassy O’Connor, which passed the House of Assembly last week.

    The report said no evidence of live baiting was found, but could not rule it out.

    ‘‘For this reason some controls are recommended for training facilities, particularly bullrings, so that there can be additional confidence in the welfare practices in the industry,’’ it said.

    Ms O’Connor said the report was a ‘‘good sign departments were taking the issue seriously’’ but there was a major task ahead.

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