Emotions ran high at Gunnedah on Saturday morning where nearly 100 greyhound industry members rallied to discuss the state government’s race ban.
Feelings of anger and frustration were prevalent among those who united from across the north west.
Some were already suffering serious consequences from the industry shutdown.
“My father is devastated, he’s going into depression,” one third-generation greyhound owner told the crowd.
“In the state he’s in, the next 12 months I think I’m going to lose my father.
“He lives for his dogs, racing is his life.”
The owner blasted Premier Mike Baird’s decision to abolish greyhound racing by July 2017.
“The government should be ashamed,” the owner said.
Leading the call to reverse the racing ban was Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association (GBOTA) chairman and Gunnedah Greyhound Racing Club president, Geoff Rose.
“We can’t afford to lose [the industry] and neither can you,” Rose told gathered representatives.
Square in his aim was the 800-page report by a Special Commission of Inquiry, which detailed an industry rife with animal welfare concerns.
The report has recently come under fire for reportedly justifying the ban citing 10-year-old sources.
Rose labelled the post-election timing of the report as “deceitful” and unjust that government chose to act on only one of the report’s 80 recommendations.
“He [Mr Baird] wants to take the bad part of the recommendations but not the good part,” he said.
The sentiments were echoed by Gunnedah-based harness racing operator Mick Finlay, who rallied behind his racing comrades.
“You only hear the bad side of greyhounds and the good side of the RSPCA,” Mr Finlay said.
Gunnedah mayor Owen Hasler assured greyhound representatives the issue would be high on the agenda at the next council meeting on Wednesday but lamented the lateness of industry reform.
“It’s a pity the work started 18 months ago didn’t start 18 years ago,” Cr Hasler said.
He encouraged all parties affected to strengthen their case for the future, rather than focusing on negative campaigns.
Earlier this week, all non-TAB greyhound racing in NSW was suspended pending track inspections at each course.
This was also a focus of frustration.
“Are they trying to starve us out?” Tamworth trainer Don Jackson questioned.
Prior to the suspension, Rose fielded more than 150 nominations for Saturday’s scheduled racing.
“We should be able to race to help pay for these dogs,” he said.
Looking forward, Rose said much had been done already to reform since its shake-up in early 2015.
“We don’t want bad people in the industry,” he said.
“As GBOTA chairman I will en- force and prosecute anyone who brings the industry into disrepute.
“We are fixing the problem and we will continue to improve but we need the time to prove we can.”