File image. Photo: Peter StoopGREYHOUND racers are secretly blooding their dogs with live bait as part of systemic and widespread cheating within the country’s multi million-dollar industry, according to explosive evidence uncovered by ABC’s Four Corners program.

Animal welfare groups have called for the dismantling of the greyhound industry following the revelations of widespread cheating, illegal live baiting and archaic training methods, some of which were alleged to have taken place at three country trial tracks.

ABC’s Four Corners played snippets from hundreds of hours of secret surveillance footage showing live piglets, rabbits and possums being mauled and used as live bait to turn greyhounds into bloodthirsty winners with an illegal and unfair edge.

Some of the industry’s most well-known trainers and owners including Reg Kay, Stuart Mills and Deborah Arnold, spoke on camera, saying live baiting was eliminated many years ago and the sport was 100 per cent clean.

However, secret cameras captured trainers participating in illegal live baiting.

Trainer John Thompson was captured instructing another man on how he should be smashing in a baby possum’s head so the live-baiting of its mother could begin.

It is “the most horrific cruelty you would ever come across” said Hayley Cotton, an investigator with Animal Liberation Queensland, who secretly filmed the abuse.

The airing of the footage on Monday night followed Fairfax Media’s report on Sunday that a parliamentary inquiry has been set up to scrutinise allegations of industry mismanagement, inappropriate distribution of TAB funds and widespread mistreatment of dogs in the $50 million-a-year greyhound racing industry in NSW.

Last year, Fairfax Media exposed allegations of race-fixing, drug use, money laundering and alleged criminal activity within the greyhound racing industry, despite reforms that had been aimed at cleaning up the sport.

Live baiting was criminalised decades ago because of its extreme cruelty and performance enhancing aspect. Instead, dogs chase a mechanical lure around the track.

Evidence of widespread cheating and illegal live baiting throws into question the validity of thousands of greyhound races and millions of dollars, Four Corners reported.

The program accused the sport’s regulators of presenting an entirely different image of the sport; of glitz, glamour and animal welfare.

“I wouldn’t believe anything that these people say when it comes to the welfare of their dogs,” Ms Cotton said.

Earlier this month, allegations of live baiting prompted simultaneous raids by the RSPCA and police in three states which resulted in 22 people being suspended.

Animal Welfare League Australia has called for the industry to be dismantled.

Adam Wallish, chief executive of Greyhound Racing Victoria, released a statement on Monday night accusing the program of being unbalanced and saying it was a “small minority” involved in illegal practices.

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