SYDNEY (AP) An Australian state premier has backed down on a ban on greyhound racing, instead deciding to increase measures designed to reduce the risk of animal cruelty.
New South Wales state premier Mike Baird faced a strong backlash to the ban after it was announced in July, and relented to the opposition on Tuesday.
Baird initially said his government had no alternative but to impose the ban, which had been due to be introduced in July next year, after a state parliamentary inquiry found overwhelming evidence of animal cruelty.
The inquiry's report found between 48,000 and 68,000 greyhounds were killed in New South Wales state in the previous 12 years because they were deemed uncompetitive.
It also found up to 20 percent of trainers had engaged in ''live baiting'' - feeding live animals to the dogs in hope of making them run faster in races when chasing the lure of an artificial rabbit - and that on average 180 greyhounds a year suffered critical injuries during races.
At the time, Baird said his state would be following many jurisdictions across the United States and the world which have banned greyhound racing to protect animal welfare.
He said subsequent feedback showed the majority view was that the industry should be given another chance.
''We did not give the good people in the industry the chance to respond, a chance to reform,'' Baird said. ''On behalf of that, I am sorry. That is something we should have done.''
He said a new organization would be created to regulate the sport, adding: ''The greyhound industry will be given that one last chance.''