Paul Wheeler Fined And Disqualified Over Illegal Dog Exports
Greyhound Racing New South Wales (GRNSW) today announced the outcome of the hearing into 41 charges laid against participant Paul Wheeler as part of its ongoing inquiry into the unauthorised export of greyhounds.
Mr Wheeler, a leading breeder and owner, is disqualified for 12 months and fined a maximum of $22,000 for facilitating the export of ten registered greyhounds to China without passports, an action which was a serious breach of GRNSW Rules.
Mr Wheeler also pleaded guilty to ten charges under GRNSW Rules of failing to lodge the prescribed transfer of ownership forms and to one charge of engaging in conduct prejudicial to the interest, welfare, image, control or promotion of greyhound racing.
Six months of the disqualification is suspended pending any further breaches of the relevant GRNSW Rules. During the first three months of the disqualification, Mr Wheeler will not be permitted to reside at his property where his greyhounds are located and trained.
GRNSW CEO Tony Mestrov said it takes the welfare of greyhounds very seriously and is committed to preventing the unauthorised export of Australian greyhounds to destinations where practices do not meet industry welfare standards and are inconsistent with community expectations.
In 2014 Greyhounds Australasia (GA) adopted the position that it will not issue passports for greyhounds which are to be exported to countries where it has no formal association with a recognised central regulatory authority.
China is one such destination, and GA has not issued any passports to participants seeking to export greyhounds to China since that time.
GRNSW also considers Mr Wheeler's admitted Rule breaches with respect to the failure to lodge prescribed forms to be significant.
Mr Mestrov said information required to be submitted on the status of greyhounds is crucial to enable GRNSW to properly monitor and regulate their movement.
“It is imperative that all participants understand that failure to properly comply with their notification obligations will result in sanctions,” he said.
“Ensuring proper record keeping is an important component of GRNSW's commitment to ensuring the welfare of greyhounds.”
Mr Mestrov said the Steward's decision on penalty reflects the seriousness of Mr Wheeler's offences under the Rules.
He said the financial penalty is the maximum permitted under GRNSW's guiding legislation.
“Together with the period of disqualification the decision demonstrates that GRNSW will not tolerate offences which jeopardise the welfare of greyhounds and tarnish the image and reputation of the sport in the eyes of the public.”
Two other industry participants, Mr Yiwen Xi and Mr Wei Shan, who have been charged with a range of breaches relating to the export of Mr Wheeler's greyhounds, also have had sanctions imposed upon them.
Both participants failed to produce documents to the Stewards Inquiry as required.
Mr Wei Shan also failed to attend a hearing of the Inquiry despite a direction to do so.
Both participants have been warned off until they produce the required documents, and in the case of Mr Wei Shan until he makes himself available to attend Inquiry hearings.
Mr Mestrov said the wider inquiry into illegal exports of dogs was ongoing.
GRNSW encourages anyone who may have information about the unauthorised exportation of greyhounds to contact the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Hotline on 1800 600 174 or www.greyhoundwelfare.com.au to ensure the matter can be fully investigated.