Discussion of breeding more greyhounds included in secret recordings tabled in SA Parliament

Greyhound industry figures discussed breeding so many dogs it would become impossible to shut down the industry due to welfare issues, in secret recordings tabled in South Australia’s Parliament.

Greens MP Tammy Franks told parliament the meetings were held in Gawler and Murray Bridge in December 2023 and April this year, in response to the findings of an independent inquiry into the industry

Ms Franks obtained recordings of the meetings and tabled them during a hearing of parliament’s budget and finance committee.

In one recording, a man who appears to be running the meeting, encourages breeders to not be discouraged because of a looming threat of an industry shutdown.

“People have asked me should I stop breeding?” he said.

“I’ve sort of said, I think you still keep breeding and otherwise we won’t have enough product in two years’ time, enough dogs to race in two years’ time.”

Greens MLC Tammy Franks tabled the recordings during a hearing of SA Parliament’s Budget and Finance Committee.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

But another person, who Tammy Franks told the parliamentary inquiry was industry veterinarian and greyhound breeder John Katakasi, suggests high breeding rates would help keep the industry open.

“The more dogs, the harder it is for them to shut the industry down because it’ll cost them too much and be an animal welfare disaster, so the more you can breed now the harder it is,” he said.

“The harder it is for them, the bleeding hearts that want to find homes for all dogs and things like that, the more there are in the system, the harder it is for them to do anything.”

The ABC made multiple attempts to contact Mr Katakasi for a response.

Industry closure threat as inspector appointed

After the ABC aired drone vision of dogs being abused on a South Australian property, the state government launched an independent review of the industry.

Once the review was completed, the government pledged to give the industry two years to meet a series of recommendations, or face the threat of being shut down.

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It’s now appointed former racing integrity commissioner Sal Perna to fill the newly created role of Greyhound Industry Reform Inspector, who will begin in the job in July.

In the recordings of the meetings, there is discussion around the lack of flexibility on recommendations and how they’ll be met.

But there is also discussion about whether the industry can push back on some areas, such as getting more time to meet larger kennel size requirements, or whether they can argue against a ban on surgical insemination.

Discussion of legal action against illegal drone use

During the meetings, a major concern is raised about drones being illegally flown over properties, and the steps being taken to track down and prosecute the people doing it.

“Hopefully we can stop these invasions of our properties, it is illegal, we need to, if you can get cameras,” one person said.

“I mean the Adelaide Greyhound Club moved a motion at our AGM that we are going to put aside $25,000 if anyone needs us to get a barrister or a private detective to get onto these people.

“The best chance of us stopping them is bankrupting them.

“The unfortunate thing about the drones and stuff is the properties haven’t looked great, so they’ve been able to make us look bad haven’t they?

“Some of the properties look okay to me but then the average person who lives in suburbia thinks all our dogs should be sitting on a fluffy couch watching TV with them.”

A man leans on a glass window.

Sal Perna has been appointed as SA’s greyhound industry reform inspector.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

In a statement to the ABC, Greyhound Racing SA said individual comments don’t represent its views.

“Any isolated points of discussion raised by individual participants were just that – for discussion – and do not represent the views of GRSA or the overall industry sentiment,” it said.

“While we understand participant concerns around continuous breaches to their privacy through illegal drone surveillance and covert recordings, our industry focus remains on working with all stakeholders to strengthen regulatory oversight.”

It said it’s working with trainers and breeders to reform the industry.

“GRSA has led a number of engagement sessions across the state regarding the industry’s reform agenda and these have been met with strong recognition and support by the vast majority of participants,” it said.

“We continue to make good progress against the inquiry report’s recommendations and remain focused on working with participants and government to safeguard the future of our great sport.”

A warning of an industry on notice

The chief executive of the Office of Recreation, Sport and Racing, Kylie Taylor, was appearing to give evidence at the parliamentary committee when Ms Franks tabled the recordings.

Ms Taylor said she was surprised to hear of their contents, and would raise it with Greyhound Racing SA.

She told the committee the industry needed to take the reform recommendations seriously if it was to continue to operate.

“All I can say to all of those things is, don’t reform at their peril,” Ms Taylor said.

“If they don’t do it, the government has accepted they are willing to shut the industry down and they expect reform.”

Ms Franks said she’s hopeful the new inspector will bring more transparency to the industry.

“Establishing legal fighting funds, breeding dogs, opposing the recommendations around artificial insemination does not give me any comfort that this industry is serious about real reform,” Ms Franks said.

“Really it should be shut down.”

Posted , updated 

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Champions Cup: Marcus Smith stars as Harlequins thrash Cardiff, Exeter progress but Sale and Bristol lose


Harlequins’ Nick David in action against Cardiff

Harlequins took a giant stride towards progressing to the knockout stages of
the Champions Cup with a bonus-point victory over Cardiff in a thrilling game at
a sold-out Arms Park.

Cardiff competed fiercely in the first half hour but were then out-gunned by some exhilarating play from the visitors, who ran in eight tries in the 54-15 win.

Jack Walker, Will Evans, Andre Esterhuizen, Will Beard, Dillon Lewis, Fin Baxter, Tyrone Green and Marcus Smith all touched down for Quins.

England fly-half Smith converted seven of the tries in a personal points tally of 19.

Thomas Young scored two tries for Cardiff, with Tinus de Beer adding a penalty and a conversion.

Smith led out Quins on his 150th appearance for the club, but they were soon behind when De Beer kicked a fourth-minute penalty.

Early ferocity from Cardiff rattled their opponents and it resulted in a try for the Welsh region. Quins failed to deal with a well-judged cross-field kick from De Beer, with lock Seb Davies knocking the ball into the path of Young who raced 40 metres to the line.

Quins soon responded with a try from Walker after an unstoppable line-out drive, before Cardiff made two mistakes in quick succession to give the Londoners another attacking platform.

Willis Halaholo knocked on before De Beer lost substantial ground by kicking straight into touch. As a result, the visitors were able to win a penalty but they turned down a simple kick at goal in favour of more attacking options, however, it proved the wrong call.

The hosts suffered an injury blow when young full-back Cam Winnett was led off and failed an HIA, but they still led 8-7 at the end of a compelling first quarter.

Cardiff then produced a stunning second try. On the halfway line, they cleverly created for Harri Millard to make ground down the right flank before Tomos Williams was on hand to provide Young with his second try.

The English outfit reacted swiftly to score a try of equal merit. Quick hands and excellent ball-retention sucked in the defence leaving Esterhuizen with a 30-metre run-in.

The entertainment was now breathtaking as Quins looked in desperate trouble on their own line, but somehow Smith conjured up a gap to send Will Evans racing to near halfway. With men in support, Evans chose to kick as Tomos Williams was able to dash back and save the day.

However, Quins were not to be denied as a strong from Nick David set up a try for Evans before more incredible handling saw Beard just hold off a cover tackle from Mason Grady for the bonus point and a 28-15 half-time lead.

Within four minutes of the restart, Quins had another when Care gave Smith a walk-in try after the Cardiff defence was torn to shreds.

With Quins firmly in control, the action slowed but the visitors were still able to emphasise their superiority with late tries from front-rowers Lewis and Baxter before Green took his side past the 50-point mark.

Leinster and Exeter progress to knock-outs but costly defeats for Sale, Bristol

Leinster continued their 100 per cent start in the Champions Cup with a crushing victory over Stade Francais on Saturday.

Pool Four rivals Sale still have work to do to join them in the last 16, however, after going down to a bonus-point defeat against Stormers in South Africa.

Leinster were highly impressive as they ran in seven tries in an emphatic 43-7 win at the Aviva Stadium.

James Lowe began the rout after 17 minutes and Josh van der Flier and Dan Sheehan added further scores before the break.

Jordan Larmour and Caelan Doris then claimed two apiece after the break with Stade Francais limited to a late consolation from Joris Segonds.

Sale were edged out by four tries to three as they suffered a 31-24 loss in Cape Town.

Tries from Hacjivah Dayimani and Suleiman Hartzenberg gave Stormers an early advantage and, with Leolin Zas later scoring two, the hosts were able to stay ahead despite replies from Jonny Hill, Agustin Creevy and Sam Bedlow.

Bedlow was sin-binned in a dramatic ending but the Sharks clung on for their bonus point as Manie Libbok, who had earlier kicked 11 points, missed the resulting penalty.

Henry Slade’s late touchline conversion of Zack Wimbush’s try secured Exeter a 19-17 victory over Glasgow which sealed their place in the knockout stages.

The Chiefs could have lost in a dramatic end to the match, though, as Glasgow secured a five-metre scrum from the restart.

It was Exeter’s put-in but the ball ran loose for replacement Euan Ferrie to crash over but TMO replays showed he had broken from the scrum early and the try was disallowed.

Also in Pool Three, Munster boosted their hopes of reaching the next phase with a 29-18 triumph at Toulon.

The Irish province trailed 10-0 early on but recovered to lead 17-13 at the break and then powered on to their first victory in this season’s competition with tries from Tom Ahern and Calvin Nash.

Alex Nankivell and Simon Zebo had crossed in the first half in response to Duncan Paia’aua’s early score while Jack Crowley landed three conversions and a penalty.

In Pool One, Bristol‘s hopes of reaching the knockout stages were dealt a major setback as South African challengers the Bulls beat them 31-17 at Ashton Gate.

The west country club must now beat Connacht in Galway to have even an outside chance of making the last 16, but they are still likely to be reliant on results elsewhere.

Bristol Bears' Gabriel Ibitoye (left) is tackled by Vodacom Bulls' Khutha Mchunu

Bristol Bears’ Gabriel Ibitoye (left) is tackled by Vodacom Bulls’ Khutha Mchunu

Bristol were overpowered by a physical, unrelenting Bulls team, conceding tries to wing Sergeal Petersen, prop Khutha Mchunu, flanker Elrigh Louw and hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels, with fly-half Johan Goosen kicking three conversions and a penalty, and centre David Kriel landing one conversion.

Bulls’ bonus-point triumph owed everything to their overwhelming scrummaging superiority, with Bristol restricted to tries from scrum-half Kieran Marmion, wing Gabriel Ibitoye and number eight Magnus Bradbury, plus one AJ MacGinty conversion.

The Gallagher Premiership side could have no complaints, while the Bulls underlined credentials as a force in the 24-team competition.

Connacht slipped to their third successive defeat as they were beaten 34-20 in their Pool One encounter at Lyon.

Sean Jansen stunned the hosts with an early try but the French side hit back through Thaakir Abrahams and Alexandre Tchaptchet.

Cian Prendergast and Tadgh McElroy touched down to keep Connacht in contention but, with 12 points from the boot of Paddy Jackson and further tries from Mickael Guillard and Abrahams, Lyon had enough.

Ulster‘s hopes of going through remain in the balance after they were overpowered 48-24 by Pool Two leaders Toulouse.

Antoine Dupont was in inspired form, scoring two of his side’s seven tries and having a hand in a number of others as the French side secured their spot in the last 16.

Peato Mauvaka also touched down twice after Matthis Lebel had opened the scoring. Alexandre Roumat added another in a dominant first hour.

Tom Stewart, Will Addison and Nick Timoney restored some respectability to the scoreline for Ulster but Emmanuel Meafou put the seal on Toulouse’s performance.Thomas Ramos weighed in with 11 points.



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Fashion and footraces at Flemington as crowds exceed 80,000 at the 2023 Melbourne Cup

More than 80,000 punters descended on the Flemington Racecourse for the running of the 2023 Melbourne Cup — the 163rd iteration of the historic race.

Racegoers were on the edges of their seats as Mark Zahra made history as the first jockey in decades to ride back-to-back Cup winners, when he steered Irish horse Without A Fight to victory. 

The horse was trained by father-and-son duo Anthony and Sam Freedman.

Three horses were found to be lame after the race sparking concern from RSPCA Victoria. 

There was a chance of rain late in the day but it held off, with punters enjoying warm spring weather with temperatures in the low 30s.

One couple celebrated achieving a trifecta win.()
Delta Goodrem wearing yellow against a green backdrop at the Melbourne Cup.
Australian singer Delta Goodrem performed her hit Born to Try leading up to the big race.()

The attendance figure for today’s event wound up exceeding 84,000, according to Network 10. At last year’s Melbourne Cup — the coldest event since 1913, with the day’s temperature reaching a high of 13.3 degrees Celcius — numbers were just shy of 74,000.

Meanwhile, pro-Palestinian protests near the racecourse led to temporary traffic disruptions near Flemington and multiple arrests, according to police.

Earlier, attendees gathered bright and early outside the gates at Flemington in scenes reminiscent of the Boxing Day sales.

Jeremy De Souza was in line early to beat the long queues outside the racecourse gates and secure a coveted shaded spot in the new grandstands.

“Got here about 6:30am, so two hours before to stand here and ready for the run in a couple minutes time,” he said.

“It’s very much like the horses going out of the gates here today.”

Men in suits standing before gates
Jeremy de Souza was in pole position for the race into Flemington.()

Laura Minahan brought a change of clothes in preparation for the mad dash for the members bar.

“This is the race before the race, so got the flats on with the heels in the bag and a different hat,” Ms Minahan said.

“So hopefully fingers crossed, we get somewhere inside.”

Brett Adams and Mark Secombe embarked on a road trip down from Queensland to back Cup favourite Gold Trip.

Their gold jackets were showing their support for the 7-year-old stallion, but there was some concern they might be a little too eye-catching.

“I’ve got to stay out of view of the horses, it might put them off,” Mr Adams said.

Two men in gold jackets
Brett Adams and Mark Secombe were backing Gold Trip to win it all.()
A man wearing shorts, a white shirt and a bow tie at the Flemington Racecourse.
Robert Pesevski took advantage of the new, relaxed rules around shorts-wearing.()

Paul Friend travelled from Dunedoo in New South Wales to attend this year’s Cup, and said he had been attending, on and off, for 25 years.

He said he was willing to step in for the real jockeys if it was an emergency.

“If there’s a scratching and one of the top jockeys can’t make it, I’m on standby just near the mounting yards, so come on down and I’ll throw the leg over,” he said.

“The horse will still be coming before the next race starts.”

Melbourne Cup fashion 5

Melbourne’s temperature hit 30.6 which was good news for Victoria Racing Club members who were allowed to wear tailored shorts to the event for the first time.

Melbourne Cup 2023 fashion

The Melbourne Cup is the fashion event of the year for many Australians. (ABC News: Rachel Clayton)

Melbourne Cup 2023 fashion

Some spectators got in early and secured prime spots. (ABC News: Rachel Clayton)

Melbourne Cup 2023 fashion

Tens of thousands are expected at Flemington Racecourse this year. (ABC News: Rachel Clayton)

Melbourne Cup 2023 fashion

Champagne was flowing at the exclusive Birdcage Enclosure. (ABC News: Rachel Clayton)

Melbourne Cup 2023 fashion

The weather was hot, leaving some feeling a little tired. (ABC News: Rachel Clayton)

Melbourne Cup 2023 fashion

Flat footwear was preferable for some. (ABC News: Rachel Clayton)

Melbourne Cup 2023 fashion

Smiles were contagious around the racecourse. (ABC News: Rachel Clayton)

Melbourne Cup 2023 fashion

The energy was palpable as crowds descended on Flemington. (ABC News: Rachel Clayton)

Melbourne Cup 2023 fashion

Bright colours were in this year. (ABC News: Rachel Clayton)

Protest disrupts traffic near Flemington

The Melbourne Cup coincides with legal reforms that came into effect today to decriminalise public drunkenness in Victoria.

The timing has previously been criticised by groups including the Victorian Police Association, with secretary Wayne Gatt expressing concern the change would leave police with little power to act.

The government has set up a sobering centre in Collingwood with 20 beds for emergency services to place people who require a place to sober up.

Meanwhile two separate protests have taken place near Flemington, including both a small group opposed to horseracing and about 100 pro-Palestinian protesters who have clashed with police.

A woman on top of a blue van is arrested by a police officer.
Pro-palestine protesters were arrested by police at the perimeter of the Flemington Racecourse.()

Police said the cohort of pro-Palestinian protesters arrived at the Epsom Road, Ascot Vale Road and Racecourse Road roundabout at Ascot Vale about 11am, resulting in traffic disruptions near the Flemington Racecourse in the hours before the running of the Cup.

Two protesters, including a woman who climbed onto the roof of a white van and refused to get down, were pepper-sprayed and arrested, according to police.

Police said there were about 80 protesters at the scene, and they arranged for the van to be towed away.

Another, smaller protest against horseracing gathered at the nearby Footscray Park Bowling Club this morning, with a group of about 10 people using placards, chants and a large banner laid out on the green to make their voices heard.

A group of people hold up signs opposing horseracing industry.
The group of anti-horseracing protesters gathered in nearby Footscray.()

Three lame horses spark RSPCA concern

Right You Are, a seven-year-old Australian gelding, struggled in the heat and failed to finish the race.

It was seen being hosed off with cold water after the race.  

A seven-year-old stallion from France, Gold Trip, and a six-year-old gelding Alenquer were also found to be lame. 

Racing Victoria said all runners in the Melbourne Cup were assessed immediately after the race by vets who “reported that no significant findings were detected at that time”.

“The veterinarians continued to monitor the runners as they cooled down following the race,” it said in a statement.

“It was upon re-examination that Gold Trip, Alenquer and Right You Are were reported to have shown a degree of lameness once they had cooled down from competing.”

Empty bottles and cups and cubbish lay scattered on the grass at the Flemington Racecourse.
The clean-up task lies ahead following the Melbourne Cup. ()

Racing Victoria said none of the horses required a referral to a veterinary clinic.

“All three have returned to their respective stables and, as in routine, will be assessed by their stable veterinarians in the coming days.” 

But RSPCA Victoria said it was “very concerned” about the number of injured horses. 

“We obviously expect the industry to make sure there’s a thorough investigation into what led up to this and what could be done to prevent it happening in future,” CEO Liz Walker said. 

“It does highlight that injuries are a real risk in horse racing.”

The legs of two women sitting on the ground next to each other with high heels off.
Punters kicked off their heels after a long day track side. ()

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Australian greyhound Katoby disappeared after retirement. We found him on a Chinese breeding site

Australian greyhounds are being purchased for up to $220,000 each and exported to China where they are fuelling an underground racing industry by exploiting loopholes in Australia’s regulations.

ABC Investigations has uncovered a sophisticated supply chain where the dogs are sold by local agents to buyers in China who breed them for lucrative fees.

An online breeding site, Greyhound YY, lists records from more than 700 Australian greyhounds obtained by breeders in China, dating back to 2006.

These greyhounds, some from good bloodlines, are in high demand in China for illegal racing with claims that some wealthy Chinese owners are betting millions a night on their offspring, despite gambling being prohibited in the country.

State based greyhound authorities don’t allow racing dogs to be exported to China by industry participants because of poor welfare standards.

While exporting greyhounds to China is not illegal, it can breach industry rules set down by racing regulators, unless participants obtain approval before exporting a dog.

In 2016, a New South Wales Special Commission of inquiry called on the federal government to have greater oversight and control of exports to China and other destinations.

Greyhound Federal Morgan was sent to Chinese breeders using an export loophole. He later appeared on this website.(Supplied: Greyhound YY)

Despite this, greyhound exports to China are continuing, and a Senate inquiry is considering whether there should be a federal government ban on all commercial greyhound exports.

In an interview with ABC Investigations, Wang Yungang, an agent based in China’s Shangdong province, revealed details of how this lucrative scheme works.

He said wealthy Chinese buyers are hiring agents in China and Australia to identify, purchase, and transport Australian greyhounds.

“The prices at which agents help Chinese buyers purchase dogs are kept secret. Chinese buyers will pay millions of yuan to buy dogs from Australia,” said Mr Wang.

‘You must keep it strictly confidential’

Mr Wang told the ABC Australian greyhounds were being exported and bred, and their offspring were being used for illegal racing and betting.

“All Australian greyhounds were bought in China for gambling. Once they arrive, they become stud dogs for breeding. They wouldn’t be sold for that much money if they were just pets,” he said.

“Some wealthy Chinese place more than 10 million yuan ($2 million) per night on the dogs,” he added.

a chinese man in a white hat talking to the camera

Chinese dog agent Wang Yungang revealed extraordinary industry secrets in a series of social media videos.(Supplied)

Mr Wang said most underground racing tracks are in the northern provinces of Shandong and Hebei. He said the syndicates behind the racing operations are well-connected to local police.

In a promotional video, Mr Wang said buying an Australian greyhound was a high risk operation, citing a buyer who paid $120,000 for a dog but failed to ship it back to China.

“If you want to buy a greyhound from Australia, you must keep it strictly confidential.”

A commercial contract he shared online sheds light on the process of buying retired, record-winning Australian greyhounds.

It sets out how a Chinese buyer would tell an agent the dog’s expected age range and budget. The buyer then pays a $15,000 deposit to the agent to look for the right dog.

The agent, in return, would guarantee the stud dog’s health and fertility.

Dog breeding companies or clubs in China advertise Australian greyhounds as “super stud dogs” and sell the breeding rights for more than $2,000 each.

One Australian greyhound was bred more than 40 times in the five months after he arrived in China, according to its online breeding records.

Mr Wang claimed agents in China outbid each other for prized greyhounds and were fiercely competitive, at times even sabotaging each other by tipping off Australian authorities.

Where did Katoby go?

The ongoing export of Australian greyhounds to countries with limited animal welfare regimes like China is partly driven by loopholes in state greyhound regulations, and limited oversight from the federal government.

A key loophole being exploited by agents in China is sending greyhounds to third countries considered to have sufficient welfare standards, and then on to China.

To comply with the rules, racing participants must seek a greyhound passport from the national body Greyhound Australasia to export racing greyhounds to approved countries including the UK, Ireland and the United States.

Failing to obtain a passport can lead to prosecution and disqualification by state racing bodies.

Greyhound racing

Racing participants must seek a passport from a national body to export a greyhound.(AAP: David Moir, file photo)

ABC Investigations has tracked several dogs which were exported to the United Kingdom, United States and South Africa but later sent to China and advertised on the Greyhound YY breeding site.

Greyhound Australasia’s CEO Simon Stout told ABC Investigations: “Most greyhound exports occur within the passport system, though we acknowledge there are some bad actors who try to get around the system.”

One good example is the case of Australian greyhound Katoby, which in September 2020, was exported to South Africa, according to microchip records obtained by greyhound welfare group Free the Hounds.

But Katoby ultimately ended up in China, appearing on the Chinese breeding website Greyhound YY. Videos posted on social media show Katoby advertised for breeding.

Greyhound champion Katoby was officially retired as pet and was supposed to be sent to Ireland.(Supplied: Greyhound YY)

Katoby was purchased by English-based animal welfare group Candy’s Hound Rescue International, which rescues greyhounds from China and transports them to the UK.

The greyhound was purchased on behalf of Australian animal welfare group Free the Hounds.

Katoby’s last registered owner Daniel Flanagan told ABC Investigations he believed the dog was in fact being sent to Ireland, and he had obtained a passport from Greyhound Australasia for that transfer.

He said he was not aware that Katoby was sent to South Africa or that the dog ended up in China.

The ABC does not suggest that Mr Flanagan knew his dog was not being sent to Ireland.

Further microchip records obtained by Free the Hounds show two other greyhounds sent to the United States and the United Kingdom from Australia in 2020 appearing on the same Chinese breeding website as the other dogs.

Cash payment filmed

ABC Investigations has uncovered one failed attempt by a Chinese based buyer to exploit this third country loophole, which has resulted in spectacular claims of kidnapping dogs for ransom which led to the prosecution of a well known Australian greyhound owner.

In 2021, Gloria Cheng, a greyhound trainer in Melbourne, entered into an arrangement with a Chinese-based buyer, Gao Chuang, to export a greyhound named Myrniong and All. The agreement required the greyhound to be exported to Ireland.

The contract between Mr Gao and Ms Cheng required her to send the dog within two months, in exchange for $34,400. Ms Cheng did not own the greyhound at the time of the arrangement.

Video obtained by ABC Investigations shows wads of cash being handed to Ms Cheng, allegedly for this purchase.

a chinese woman hold a large stack of cash

Gloria Cheng was filmed holding a large stack of cash as part of an alleged transaction.(Supplied)

However, the transaction was stopped by the Victorian greyhound regulator, which was concerned about its “bona fides”.

“The example of Myrniong and All shows that GRV will intervene when not satisfied about the bona fides of a proposed export to prevent a greyhound from leaving the country, said the CEO of Greyhound Racing Victoria Stuart Laing.

The ABC tracked down the buyer Mr Gao, who said he eventually planned to bring the dog to China.

He said he had a dog breeding facility in China that specialises in breeding the offspring of Australian greyhounds.

“Chinese buyers love Australian greyhounds. It has been the case for the last two decades,” said Mr Gao.

Ms Cheng did not respond to questions from ABC Investigations.

‘This can all go away’

This was far from the end of the story.

Mr Gao is now suing Ms Cheng over the failed export and the dispute has drawn in a well known Australian greyhound industry figure Vince Tullio.

Mr Tullio, a plumber who has also owned greyhounds, says he offered to help Mr Gao get his money back from Ms Cheng.

Vince Tullio Blurred

Vince Tullio (left) was found guilty of several offences under Victorian greyhound racing rules.(Facebook: Supplied)

In an extraordinary admission, Mr Tullio told ABC Investigations he broke into Ms Cheng’s kennels and removed two of her greyhounds from them, and demanded a ransom of $43,500 in exchange for the dogs.

In a Facebook message, Mr Tullio told Ms Cheng that if she did not pay the money, he would alert Greyhound Racing Victoria.

“This can all go away if you do the right thing and you can enjoy racing your dogs again,” he wrote.

“I expect money to be ready Thursday…no games, no lies, no excuses!! Just make sure u have the money, I will be sending someone around to collect it and no one will find out about anything.”

Mr Tullio’s threats and the kidnapping of the greyhounds eventually led to him being found guilty of several offences under Victorian greyhound racing rules, and being disqualified from the industry for eight months.

Mr Tullio said he is no longer involved in greyhound racing.

Mr Gao and Mr Tullio, described as Gao’s “Australian representative and agent”, are now pursing Ms Cheng in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to recover the $40,400 paid to her for the dog. Ms Cheng denies the claims or that any funds are owed, and did not respond to questions from the ABC.

Mr Tullio told ABC Investigations he was acting as a “debt collector” for Mr Gao in Australia because Mr Gao, as a Chinese national, was unable to initiate VCAT proceedings himself, and because he disliked Ms Cheng.

He said he received no payment for assisting in the case, which is ongoing.

The China-based agent ABC Investigations interviewed, Mr Wang, alleges that Mr Tullio is not just a debt collector but also has helped Chinese buyers purchase Australian greyhounds.

“Many people in China know Vince,” said Mr Wang in a video posted on his social media account.

When asked to respond to Mr Wang’s claims that he was involved in exports to China, Mr Tullio initially said “I’m famous, that’s good”.

Greyhounds burst out of the starting gates.

Industry leaders have described, ahead of a Senate inquiry, the problem of greyhounds being sent to China as small scale.(AFP: Robyn Beck, file photo)

He denied sending any dogs to China or being involved in their export, but said he supported it generally.

“It’s not against the law. If it’s against the law, well then there’s an issue, but it’s not against the law,” he said.

“To be honest with you, they look after them better than the Australian people do.

“Everyone thinks in China they do this, they do that, they do this over there. It’s all bullshit. I’m telling you now, it’s all bullshit, they get treated better over there than they do in Australia.”

Mr Tullio has also been allegedly linked to another greyhound export loophole, by which dogs are retired and classified as pets before being exported.

A NSW dog, Mickey Doo, was retired from racing and re-classified as a pet before being exported directly to China. Mickey Doo’s last registered owner, prominent thoroughbred owner Luke Murrell, told ABC Investigations he sold his greyhound to Mr Tullio.

Mr Tullio denied he was sold the dog or had any dealings with it, but said “if the dog is retired, and is a pet, it’s allowed to go to any country in the world”.

a running greyhound

Mickey Doo was retired from racing and re-classified as a pet before being exported directly to China.(Supplied)

State greyhound regulators’ jurisdiction is limited to people connected to the racing industry, making it difficult to stamp out exports to China.

Greyhound authorities in Australia are currently investigating the case of Mickey Doo, and another dog, Federal Morgan, also exported to China using this loophole in the past year.

The Greyhound Welfare & Integrity Commission NSW said: “These greyhounds were rehomed by industry participant owners and placed on the Companion Animals Register [CAR], thereby making them pets.

“Once former racing greyhounds become pets, their export becomes the responsibility of the Australian Government.”

Calls for tighter export control

Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi has recently introduced a bill to ban greyhound exports for commercial purposes.

She said the current industry regime, as well as the responses of successive federal governments, had failed to stop the export of greyhounds.

“The bill will require the minister’s permission if someone wants to export a greyhound for companion animal purposes,” she said.

“And the responsibility will also be on the person who’s taking the greyhound to make sure that they provide evidence to the minister that that is actually the purpose for which it is going.”

Side shot of Mehreen Faruqi speaking. She's got glasses on, a scarf around her neck, and long brown hair.

Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi said the current industry regime has failed to stop greyhound exports to China.(ABC News: Mark Moore )

Greyhound industry bodies do not support the bill and have argued a simpler fix would help stop exports of greyhounds that would be against their rules.

The GRV CEO, Mr Laing, said his organisation supported building on the current passport system, to introduce a process whereby state regulatory bodies are notified of export applications by the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).

He said he supported an “industry led response” and insisted the issue was one of “small scale”.

Greyhound Australasia’s CEO, Mr Stout, said this approach was “the most efficient means of stopping the very small number of greyhounds that are exported to unauthorised countries”.

Official DAFF records show that 109 greyhounds have been exported to China since 2014.

When ABC Investigations asked Greyhound Australasia if it had reviewed the 700 Australian greyhounds listed on the breeding website in China, it did not directly address the question.

A spokesman for the agriculture department said it was currently discussing with state and territory authorities whether it could share export information.

Caroline Ludwig with three of the greyhounds in her care

A special commission seven years ago recommended the federal government to take more strident measures to protect greyhounds.(ABC North Coast: Samantha Turnbull)

In 2016, under the Coalition government, a NSW special commission of inquiry report by former High Court judge Michael McHugh strongly encouraged the federal government to take a more strident approach to regulating greyhound exports itself.

“The time is ripe for the Federal Government to step up to the plate. It is the only entity that can provide national leadership in respect of what is an important area concerning animal welfare. There is an opportunity for it to do so,” Mr McHugh wrote.

Since that time there have been no changes made to the way the federal government oversees greyhound exports.

However, the federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt told ABC Investigations he would consider the outcomes of the current Senate inquiry.

“The Albanese government supports strong animal welfare standards and believes all animals should be treated humanely,” he said.

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