Greyhound trainer says ban ‘unbelievable’
WHITEMAN Creek greyhound trainer Len Harris is not one of the greyhound trainers responsible for the "systemic cruelty" that has prompted the NSW Government to legislate to shut down the industry.
The former Central Coast owner, breeder and trainer, who moved here with his wife Evelyn just over four years ago, has 40 dogs on his 8ha property and just 14 of them are racing.
"Just three weeks ago I buried one just a month short of its 17th birthday," he said.
"I can see eight rose bushes from where I am now and each of them has a dog underneath it."
NSW Premier Mike Baird's announcement of the ban on Thursday left the trainer of 47 years shaking his head.
"It was just unbelievable," he said "And it's so unfair. I don't know what I'll do next.
"I've just got a litter to Fernando Vale on the ground," he said. "They're eight weeks old. It cost me over $6500 to have her serviced.
"We had to have a cesarean. We didn't muck around. She had to have a cesarean because she had scarring on her uterus, which was another $1400.
"They think we don't look after our dogs. My dogs, their beds, their blankets and their sheets are changed twice a day.
"My bed inside gets changed once a day. We live on sausages, they live on rump steak."
Mr Harris said his operation was self- sufficient.
"I never breed to sell, I only breed enough to keep myself going," he said.
"Just because pups are not up to championship stage, or real good stage, I still race them.
"I never put a dog down without good reason.
"I've got two dogs here now that broke down back in November. They were supposed to have their first race starts back today.
"The vets told me they had to be put down on the track. We even sucked the green dream up in the needle for one dog.
"I said 'no, I'm not going to let it happen'. I said I'll take the dog home, I'll persevere with him."
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis has every sympathy for people like Mr Harris, but the evidence in the report was "damning".
"I was shocked by the decision and it's certainly going to impact on the regional greyhound industry," Mr Gulaptis said.
"Greyhound racing is part of the culture of regional NSW."
But the MP said Mr Baird did not have many options open to him.
"I can understand the decision," Mr Gulaptis said. "Systemic cruelty to animals - and this is really about animal welfare, it's not an economic decision - has gone too far.
"The report is damning about the industry. The administrators and the leaders in the industry, instead of cleaning it up, have been covering it up.
"It's disgraceful and it's led to having no confidence in the industry."
Mr Gulaptis said he was sure the majority of local owners and trainers were doing the right thing.
"The people I feel sorry for are the trainers, the dog owners, the mums and dads and the businesses who are doing the right thing," Mr Gulaptis said.