Love of dogs driving change in the industry
THE GREYHOUND racing industry is being reformed from within by those who care deeply for its future.
In the wake of the live baiting scandal that has seen more than 20 trainers banned for life, the industry has copped plenty of flak from outside its ranks.
But what is less well known is the concerted effort made by those within the industry to reform the sport.
The majority of participants by far in the industry are those like local trainers Bill Warner and Keiron Butler, who are driving a healing process.
Warner, a Thagoona trainer who is also the president of the United Queensland Greyhound Association, is passionate about the work being done to creative an innovative new lure to take the sport forward.
"We are not allowed to use skins anymore, or any animal product such as chicken necks from a dead chook or a steak as a lure," Warner said.
"So industry participants have got together and done a lot of research on the colours that dogs can identify, along with the scents and sounds that attract them.
"They are colour blind to orange, red and green, but they absolutely see yellow and blue. They are the colours that are very attractive to them.
"We are now a long way towards developing a lure that will be very attractive to the greyhounds, and now we want to get it standardised and introduced Australia-wide.
"I am helping out a guy named Doug Gladman, a greyhound trainer who has done most of the research on the colours."
Warner said Greyhound Racing Victoria had trialled the yellow and blue coloured lure at a meeting in Shepparton.
Gladman and Warner met with the vet science department at the University of Queensland in Gatton about the project.
"They have given us a quote to investigate the most suitable non-animal scent attractive to greyhounds, so we can have a non-animal scent on our blue and yellow lure," Warner said.
"The industry is doing it tough because there is a perception that Racing Queensland has been punitive in its actions rather than supportive.
"But the wheels are starting to turn. We've got a level of agreement that they will fund the research at the UQ at Gatton to the tune of approximately $60,000. We are starting to heal from within."
Warner said he was keen to "debunk some of the myths that were put forward in the MacSporran Report".
"It was in one of the papers that someone had written a submission to MacSporran and made the allegation that we put lighted matches up dogs' bums to make them run faster," he said
"That has never been done and doesn't happen."
Some of the other allegations were nothing more than fantasies.
"They had us throwing dogs off Cunningham's Gap on the way home from Toowoomba when there was racing at Toowoomba," Warner said.
"Only problem is that Cunningham's Gap is on the way back from Warwick.
"No dogs have been thrown off cliffs anywhere. These myths paint good people in a bad light."
"There were some people who were on the wrong path, and I freely admit that and we as an industry don't condone what was going on.
"But due process will occur and those people will get whatever the law sees fit to give them."
The QT has met many dog trainers over the years and Warner and Goodna trainer Butler are a prime example of how most trainers treat their animals.
Each time we have been to see Butler his dogs lick us to death. You would not meet happier and friendlier animals.
He has giant fans blowing on them in the heat of summer so they keep cool.
"The majority of us are normal people who enjoy greyhounds," Warner said.
"We love the dogs and we want to do the right thing by them. I have five pets and one race dog at home."
Butler has four greyhounds as house pets and has kept them for 43 years.
"All the trainers I know keep them as house dogs," he said.
He said it was "a lie perpetrated by animal liberationists and vegans" that dogs no longer fit to race are killed.
"But not one person has challenged them on any of their lies," he said.
Butler is vocal about the changes needed at the top of Racing Queensland.
"If you had shares in BHP would you want a brain surgeon running it?" he asked.
"In Queensland we have an industry that employs thousands of people and turns over millions of dollars but it is being run by an accountant (Ian Hall).
"As soon as racing Minister Bill Byrne appoints a proper board to run racing in Queensland we will be a lot better off, and not the laughing stock that we are in Australia and around the world.
"We want people running the industry who know about greyhound racing and who have the expertise, and by that I mean people like Redbank Plains vet Gerry King who is one of the best vets in Australia, if not the world.
"He told me personally he has put his hand up to be on the board but doesn't get a look in.
"Gerry is a fair-minded person and with his expertise and knowledge of greyhound racing and the thoroughbred industry he would be an asset."