Australia: NSW bans greyhound racing after scandal

General view of the greyhound race Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Reports of systematic animal cruelty have cast a cloud over greyhound racing in Australia

Greyhound racing will be banned in the Australian state of New South Wales after "horrific" evidence of widespread animal cruelty was uncovered.

A government investigation found overwhelming evidence of animal cruelty, including mass greyhound killings and "live baiting".

The state government said it would work towards a ban from 1 July 2017.

"We are left with no acceptable course of action except to close this industry down," Premier Mike Baird said.

In recent years, the sport has enjoyed a resurgence across the country. Prize money has sky-rocketed and more than £2bn ($2.6bn) a year is wagered on races.

"I feel much empathy for innocent trainers and those who will lose their job or hobby as a result of this," Mr Baird said.

"But we simply cannot and will not standby and allow the widespread and systemic mistreatment of animals."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There are more than 20,000 racing greyhounds in NSW and an overall population of about 40,000

The legislation to stop greyhound racing will still need to pass through state parliament and is also likely face legal action from the racing industry.

"Today is an extremely sad day for the NSW greyhound racing industry and the people involved in it," Greyhound Racing NSW said in a statement.

An ABC Four Corners report aired last year showed piglets, possums and rabbits being chased and killed by dogs in training sessions.

Four Australian states - NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania - subsequently launched inquiries into greyhound racing.

Dozens of trainers were suspended. Some were banned from ever participating in the sport again and others charged under animal cruelty laws.

"This day is historic," said RSPCA NSW chief executive Steven Coleman.

"It's monumental. And I can only hope that reverberates around the country."

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