Government announces review into greyhound racing following welfare pleas

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 16 Apr 2021, 7:51PM
Greyhound racing at Addington last year. Photo / Photosport
Greyhound racing at Addington last year. Photo / Photosport

Government announces review into greyhound racing following welfare pleas

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 16 Apr 2021, 7:51PM

The Government has announced a review into the New Zealand greyhound racing industry.

The review will look into the work being done on animal welfare and safety in the industry following calls for a complete ban on greyhound racing.

Findings from a 2017 review into the industry, undertaken by former High Court judge Rodney Hansen QC, revealed more than 1440 dogs had been euthanised in just four years.

Sport and Racing Minister Grant Robertson says he isn't satisfied that the recommendations from the report have been sufficiently implemented.

"While Greyhound Racing NZ has reported some progress in implementing the recommendations of the Hansen Report, recent incidents show the industry still has some way to go to achieve the appropriate standards," Robertson said.

"I have informed Greyhound Racing NZ that I am not satisfied the recommendations are being implemented in a way that is improving animal welfare, and with their failure to provide sufficient information on changes they are making.

"It is the responsibility of the industry to hold itself accountable and ensure the best possible standards of welfare for greyhounds. Should the review show that progress has not been sufficient, a further fundamental look at the greyhound racing industry may be required."

Sir Bruce Robertson, a former senior judge and the current Chair of the Racing Integrity Establishment Board, has been appointed to lead the review.

His judicial background and prior experience with the wider industry makes him well qualified to lead the review, the Government said.

Associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri said the review would be completed by August 1 to allow the incoming Racing Integrity Board to pick up any changes from the start of the new racing season.

"I had written to Greyhound Racing New Zealand suggesting that they may wish to continue regular progress reporting on the recommendations from the Hansen Report. That suggestion was not acted on and this review will now address these matters," Whaitiri said.

The announcement comes after six dogs suffered broken legs at New Zealand greyhound races in the past two weeks.

Last Sunday, in a video broadcast by the TAB in Race 3 at Auckland, greyhound All Day Long suffered a fall and broken leg. On the same day at the same track, Spring Timmie suffered a broken leg.

Seven greyhounds have died and over 270 injuries have been sustained at races in New Zealand, according to animal welfare group Safe NZ.

Safe NZ boss Debra Ashton said: "As long as there is greyhound racing in New Zealand, dogs will continue to suffer."

Earlier this week, Kiwibank announced that it is offering a block on online gambling transactions to help customers curb addiction.

"We are seeing leadership from private industry who are taking action to condemn the ills of gambling," said Ashton. "This is an industry that hurts animals and people."

A petition, supported by Safe, calling for a ban on commercial greyhound racing was launched by Greyhound Protection League of New Zealand in September 2020. So far it has been signed by 26,420 people.

"No 'athlete' is expected to die for their sport," said Ashton. "It's time for this gross abuse of dogs to end."