SPCA New Zealand

Government turns blind eye to greyhound suffering as decision swept under ‘post-election’ rug

20 April 2023

SPCA is devastated greyhounds will continue to suffer while Government seemingly puts industry decision in the too-hard basket. No clear date has been set for when Kieran McAnulty’s paper will finally go to Cabinet, which was originally intended to be presented in February.

Government turns blind eye to greyhound suffering as decision swept under ‘post-election’ rug

Minister McAnulty has now indicated he would not be in a position to make that recommendation before the election in October.

SPCA Chief Science Officer Dr Arnja Dale says SPCA has been calling for the end of commercial greyhound racing after more than a decade of media due to reports highlighting neglect, abuse and injury within the industry.

“We’re beyond disappointed this isn’t treated as a pressing issue given greyhounds continue to suffer and the majority of New Zealander’s want it to stop,” says Dr Dale.

“For years, we’ve seen the predictable cycles of exposés, doping scandals, three independent reviews, catastrophic injuries, dog deaths and petitions to the Government – and there seems to be no teeth to their response. They took the ‘unprecedented’ step to put the industry on notice, but where has that landed?

“SPCA want to see a strong response from political parties on animal welfare issues. This combined with National’s and Act’s recent announcement indicating they intend to restart Live Exports has left us devastated that years of advocating on so many issues could have been in vain.”

A public survey, carried out by an independent company on behalf of SPCA in 2022, found that more than 74 per cent of New Zealanders would vote to ban greyhound racing in a referendum and the majority would be disappointed in the Government if they did not ban it. In the same survey, only nine per cent believed racing greyhounds have a good life.

The Petitions Select Committee also considered a petition to ban commercial greyhound racing, signed by more than 37,000 people. Their report on this issue gave a strong message to Government “We have doubts about whether the greyhound racing industry still has a social licence to operate in its current form. We have serious concerns about the way the industry is operating at present. We urge the Government to be mindful of our comments when it considers the future of the greyhound racing industry following the RIB’s report in December 2022.”

New Zealand is one of only seven countries in the world where commercial greyhound racing still exists. SPCA believes it is time for Aotearoa to get on the right side of history and make it a thing of the past.

SPCA is equally as concerned about the off-track aspects of commercial greyhound racing, just as much as the risks while on track.

“Many greyhounds can spend significant periods of time in inadequate housing, with poor nutrition and a lack of socialisation and environmental enrichment,” continues Dr Dale. “Most people will be aware of positive testing for banned or illegal substances, but there are so many aspects to the lives of so many dogs that are not as well publicised and simply not good enough. The industry has had many years to improve, with warning after warning. They don’t deserve any more chances.”

If greyhound racing were to be ended, SPCA anticipates that there would be a wind-down period, where the industry could be closed over time in a way that protects both people and animals. SPCA has offered to help with advice, and support where possible, during this transition.

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