SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Greyhound Racing

Animals in Entertainment, Sport, and Work

SPCA advocates for the end of the New Zealand greyhound racing industry.

The Greyhound Racing Industry in New Zealand has a demonstrated history of being unwilling or unable to adequately address the significant animal welfare concerns.

There have been a number of independent reviews into the welfare of dogs within the greyhound racing industry and each of these have reported significant animal welfare issues and a lack of transparency.

Animal welfare issues include: breeding practices that lead to poor welfare outcomes; physical overexertion, distress or injuries that result from excessive demands being placed upon the animals during racing or training; lack of socialisation and environmental enrichment; poor nutrition: inadequate housing; administration of banned or unregistered substances; the export of greyhounds; illegal live baiting; the fate of unwanted greyhounds; and the difficulties in rehoming greyhounds once their racing career is over.

While greyhound racing continues in New Zealand, SPCA advocates for the greyhound racing industry to improve its practices to provide a Good Life where greyhounds experience positive welfare and meet the physical, health, and behavioural needs of the dogs for the whole of their life.

The greyhound racing industry must maintain responsibility for all the dogs that they breed and ensure they have a Good Life, whether or not they are raced. SPCA advocates for greater compliance with comprehensive, early socialisation practices to reduce stress throughout their lives and improve adoption success, whether or not greyhounds are raced.

To reduce the number of surplus greyhounds being bred, SPCA advocates greyhound racing must implement a focussed and independent assessment of the number of animals required and implement active population management to avoid over breeding.

SPCA opposes the use of drugs to attempt to alter the performance of an animal or to enable it to compete, including masking pain.

Practices used to control or modify the behaviour or performance of the dogs during racing or training must be humane and not cause injury, pain, suffering or distress to the animal.

SPCA supports steps taken to identify and reduce the risk of injury during races. For example, introduction of straight tracks to reduce the higher risk of injuries associated with turns.

SPCA advocates that animal race tracks must only be able to operate if a veterinarian is present who has experience in the veterinary needs of racing dogs.

SPCA advocates that greyhound housing must provide sufficient space and enrichment items to provide the dogs with a Good Life where they experience positive welfare and their physical, health and behavioural needs are met.

Independent kennel visits are required to ensure compliance with all relevant animal welfare guidelines, industry policies and government codes and regulations. This includes a rigorous assessment of animal welfare in large scale operations.

SPCA advocates for the mandatory collection and publication of comprehensive lifecycle (birth to death records) and injury statistics for greyhounds bred for racing and a national identification registration and traceability system.

Strict and enforced greyhound regulations are needed to ensure the welfare of the dogs throughout their lives, not just when they are participating in races. To ensure compliance, there must be comprehensive accessible data available on the position of all animals from birth to death.

SPCA advocates for dedicated animal welfare roles and committees to ensure a greater focus on and commitment to animal welfare in the greyhound racing industry.

To ensure the greyhound racing industry is able to make meaningful, ongoing animal welfare improvements, an Animal Welfare Manager with a background in animal welfare must be appointed. SPCA supports greater oversight through increased transparency and a health and welfare committee, with full participation of all relevant stakeholders, who have the power to oversee and advance animal welfare in the industry.

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