HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [9.58 pm]: I rise to ask about what is happening with the outdated law that requires greyhounds to be muzzled in public. In June this year, I tabled a petition on behalf of over 1 100 people that called for legislation to appeal the requirement for non-racing greyhounds to be muzzled in public. The petitioners asked the Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs to recommend that the government follow the lead of the Victorian and ACT governments and remove the requirement for greyhounds to be muzzled. I note that the timing is interesting, because not long after I tabled that petition, the New South Wales government announced it would repeal its greyhound muzzle laws for non-racing greyhounds. Those states have made that decision because it is the evidence-based approach for dealing with the issue. A number of key animal welfare groups, including the Australian Veterinary Association, the RSPCA and even the New South Wales Greyhound Industry Reform Panel, support ending the muzzling of greyhounds in public. That is because there is no evidence to show that greyhounds as a breed pose any greater risk to the public than any other breed of dog. In fact, the RSPCA advised that compulsory muzzling of pet greyhounds in public only occurs in Australia and Northern Ireland, and it has not found any evidence of increased safety risks or incidents arising from the absence of compulsory muzzling of greyhounds in other countries. We do know though that the muzzling of greyhounds creates a range of other problems. It can be particularly distressing for the dogs themselves, particularly if the muzzles are improperly fitted, or if they are introduced too quickly to a dog that is not accustomed to it. They can prevent a dog from engaging in normal behaviours or from defending themselves if they are attacked by another dog. Perhaps the greatest problem with them is that muzzles are continuing to contribute to the negative perception and misconception that greyhounds are an aggressive dog. That is a huge problem, particularly when we are talking about the greyhound racing industry, which discards hundreds of greyhounds every year that are then desperate to be rehomed. Removing the muzzling laws in this state would significantly help to improve the image of greyhounds and also the capacity for them to be successfully rehomed.
The whole practice of muzzling is an outdated relic of the past. It came about from the outdated and meant-to-be illegal practice of live baiting for greyhounds when they were engaged in racing. It really should not be something that needs to be considered any more. I note that the government’s response to the petition and to my submission refers to the review of the dog and cat acts and the community consultation that was undertaken as part of that review. I encourage members to take a quick look at the number of submissions received; there were many. I was pleased to see that a significant portion of responses to the review relate specifically to the issue of muzzling of greyhounds and that the vast majority of those submissions are in favour of removing the need for greyhounds to be muzzled in public.
I have been very privileged to meet with a lot of greyhounds and their owners, and without exception I am really impressed by greyhounds; they are beautiful dogs. They are incredibly sooky, very gentle and love nothing more than coming up and having a bit of a snuggle and leaning on you. I am also impressed by the passion of their owners to advocate for the best interests of their dogs, remembering that many of these dogs have already suffered terrible injuries as a result of greyhound racing, which is a very cruel industry, and their treatment in previous lives as racing animals. Given this, I sincerely hope that very soon we will see a recommendation arising out of the review to abandon this archaic requirement. We need this sooner rather than later. I would like us to be brought into line with other states. It will be better for the dogs and it will certainly be easier to have them rehomed.