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Pressure is mounting for a ban on greyhound racing

Racing Ministry Grant Robertson has put the greyhound racing industry formally on notice following the release of a damning review of the industry.

The review, which was commissioned in April 2021 and completed by Sir Bruce Robertson, shows the industry has made little improvement since the Hansen report in 2016.

SAFE spokesperson Will Appelbe said they’re pleased with the Minister’s response, but until there is a total ban dogs will continue to suffer.

"We’re not surprised by the findings. They confirm what we’ve been saying all along," said Appelbe. "This is a good first step, but anything other than a total ban on greyhound racing continues to put dogs at risk."

"The industry has been given countless opportunities to clean up their act, but hundreds of dogs are still being injured and killed every year."

"What’s worrying is the lengths that Greyhound Racing New Zealand will go to obfuscate information."

The review states that 923 dogs had been euthanised since 2017. Fifty-seven of those were for aggression, 119 for illness, and 285 for accidents and injury. For the remaining 462 dogs, no reason was given for euthanasia.

"It is completely unacceptable that the industry cannot provide a rationale for nearly half of the dogs euthanised since 2017."

"It’s good to see that the Government is taking this seriously and has put the greyhound racing industry on notice. But dogs will continue to suffer until greyhound racing is banned."

SAFE is New Zealand’s leading animal rights organisation.

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Key points from the review:

- Within the timeframe of the inquiry it was not possible to reach a firm conclusion as to whether all recommendations made in the Hansen Report have been met to a sufficient degree.

- Criticisms were made that the rehoming of dogs gave well-meaning adopters a significant personal and financial burden. Many dogs were not suitable for rehoming, due to behaviours that made them unsuitable for pet life and a lack of socialisation training to ameliorate these behaviours at a time when the dog is young enough for these to be effective. Furthermore, the negative impacts of racing on overall health often do not present until a dog is settled into a new home. Because of this, rehoming has been criticised by some as being the ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ that masks the greyhound racing industry’s flaws. Rehoming largely deals with the symptoms of the industry’s problem rather than the problem itself.

- The review reiterated that "the greyhound racing industry, but its nature, is inherently dangerous." This was also noted by the Hansen report in 2016

- Racing Minister Grant Robertson has stated there are three fundamental issues that still need to be addressed; data recording, transparency of all activities, and animal welfare generally. He has tasked the Racing Integrity board to identify a specific set of indicators over each of these areas that will be used to assess the industry’s progress, reporting back to the Minister before the end of 2022.

Notes for editors:

- Last month, Labour MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan accepted The Greyhound Protection League of New Zealand’s 37,700 signature-strong petition, calling for a ban on greyhound racing in New Zealand. SAFE had been supporting the petition since November 2020.

- In April, the Government announced a review of the greyhound racing industry, following reports from SAFE, the Greyhound Protection League and Grey2K USA Worldwide of ongoing cruelty within the industry.

- Greyhound Racing New Zealand’s 2020 annual report.

- Photos of dogs rescued by the Greyhound Protection League.

- Greyhound racing is legal in only seven countries. A ban in the Australian Capital Territory came into force in April 2018, followed by a ban in Florida, USA, in November 2018. Since Florida is home to 11 of the USA’s 17 active dog tracks, this is a signal that greyhound racing will soon become a thing of the past in the United States.

- Information about greyhound racing in Aotearoa.

© Scoop Media

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