Property owner confirms mass greyhound burial site in Cessnock

Robert Howard with Zip the Zipper at the Keinbah Trial Track.
Robert Howard with Zip the Zipper at the Keinbah Trial Track.

Two greyhound burial sites on the Keinbah Trial Track at Cessnock are under police investigation.

Police are looking at several grave sites in the Hunter Valley after allegations that dog owners paid to have dogs shot and disposed of in the region.

Track owner and manager Natina Howard said the discovery of the burial sites was overwhelming. 

Mrs Howard and her husband Robert bought the property in December 2013 and reopened it to the racing community in February last year.


“I had no idea. It was so overwhelming.”

“We have always been in racing,” Mrs Howard said.  “Our family has always owned greyhounds, they are the most beautiful pets.”

Two weeks after opening the track in February 2014, the RSPCA and Greyhound Racing NSW conducted investigations of the site after being tipped off about the burials.

“Within 10 to 15 minutes of walking onto the property they found the first mass grave site,” she said. “I had no idea.  It was so overwhelming.”

Mrs Howard said one of the two known burial sites had been dug up and skulls were found just 10 ­centimetres below the surface.

Several bones have been found on the property since and she believed more burial sites would also be ­discovered.

“They recovered a whole skull and it still had hair on it,” Mrs Howard said. “It made me feel sick.”

Mrs Howard was told the site would be excavated, but this was yet to happen.

“There have been three investigations undertaken at the Keinbah Trial Track site since early 2014 – one by RSPCA NSW, one by GRNSW (both in 2014) and one in early 2015 by former NSW Police deputy commissioner David Madden,” a GRNSW spokesman said. 

“This week, GRNSW interim CEO Paul Newson referred the findings of Mr Madden’s report to NSW Police, and RSPCA NSW for their consideration of what, if any, further investigation may be appropriate. 

“It is premature to form a view on whether the property contains a mass greyhound gravesite, and it is appropriate to recognise this identification of bones and greyhound training activities have occurred at the property over some time.”

Police said the state crime command had received and will assess a report relating to the death of greyhounds in the Hunter Valley.

RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector David O’Shannessy said the RSPCA had been provided with a copy of Mr Madden’s interim report on alleged greyhound cruelty and possible mass dog graves on a Hunter Valley property.

“The RSPCA would encourage any witnesses to acts of cruelty or the existence of a mass grave in the Hunter Valley to come forward,” he said.

Mrs Howard said she would be happy for investigators to  excavate the sites, with the hope that microchips would be found.

“If that is going to hold someone accountable for this ... then I wouldn’t stop them,” she said.

This investigation comes after the discovery of more than 50 greyhound remains near Bundaberg in Queensland last week. It also follows the live baiting scandal that broke in February.

Mr Newson has urged anyone who may have evidence of animal cruelty in the NSW greyhound racing industry, including any evidence of mass graves, to contact the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Hotline. 

Phone 1800 680 174 or visit  www.greyhoundwelfare.com.au.

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