A live baiting scandal has erupted in Victoria's greyhound racing industry, prompting renewed calls for a ban on the sport.
A greyhound trainer and fellow registered industry member were immediately suspended on Tuesday after evidence of luring and baiting was found during a targeted inspection of a property at Lara, near Geelong.
Investigations are continuing but Greyhound Racing Victoria chief executive Stuart Laing flagged the pair could face criminal charges over the breaches.
"The industry has zero tolerance for any baiting offences, which not only impact animal welfare but also undermine the integrity of the sport and damages the reputation of the greyhound racing industry," he said in a statement.
"Our greyhound racing integrity unit is highly vigilant and will investigate allegations and evidence and take appropriate action, including consideration of any potential criminal breaches of Victoria's Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 as well as offences under the rules of racing."
Animal Justice Party MP Georgie Purcell, who was part of a Victorian parliamentary inquiry that last week recommended a ban on recreational duck shooting from next year, said she was not surprised by the discovery.
"With such an insufficient and irregular compliance schedule - how many more (properties) are going unchecked," she wrote on social media.
"Shut it down."
Joanne Lee from the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds is demanding an immediate inquiry into the industry's future, saying a lack of scrutiny and weak penalties give participants the confidence to ignore rules.
"The racing industry will say these are just a few bad apples but this industry is rotten to the core," the group's Victorian director said.
"It's a cruel, animal-abusing industry that is protected by self-regulation and politicians."
A Victorian government spokeswoman said it takes animal welfare extremely seriously when asked whether a ban would be considered.
"Live baiting is abhorrent and has no place in the greyhound racing industry," she said.
"The government supports Greyhound Racing Victoria to ensure animal welfare remains a priority."
An RSPCA Victoria spokeswoman said significant animal welfare problems remain inherent in the sport and it advocates for mandatory collection and publication of data to track greyhounds from birth to death.
In 2015, ABC program Four Corners exposed live baiting on tracks in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
It showed graphic footage of small animals being tied to mechanical lures on which they were chased, caught and savaged by greyhounds.
The program led to several state inquiries and spurred the NSW government to announce it would outlaw greyhound racing in the state, before premier Mike Baird reversed the decision.
Victoria opted against a ban in favour of sweeping reforms and a new integrity model.
Former Victorian police chief Graham Ashton was appointed last month to lead an independent inquiry into South Australian greyhound racing after the release of footage showing a trainer kicking and punching a dog.
Australian Associated Press
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