Released today, the Racing Integrity Board has provided its Greyhound Review Final Report to the Minister for Racing, Kieran McAnulty. It included evidence and damning statements that animal welfare is not a top priority for Greyhound Racing New Zealand and that the industry only improves when RIB puts them under a microscope – which simply isn’t sustainable.
A supplementary report was also requested by the Racing Minister earlier this year, to provide an outline for a proposed business strategy should the industry close. This document suggests very careful consideration is being made, and SPCA is supportive of the extensive work that the Racing Integrity Board has undertaken. However, the charity is clear the time to make a final call is now.
Minister for Racing, Kieran McAnulty, was originally going to present a paper to Cabinet indicating his recommendation in February this year. Disappointingly, he recently confirmed he would not be in a position to make that recommendation before the election in October.
Since February, hundreds of dogs have continued to suffer in this sport. There have been over 250 injuries, one death on the track and two charges of substance abuse.
For SPCA, today’s released reports miss one key element –the fact that the social license for the industry has expired. Two separate independent surveys carried out by SPCA have found most New Zealanders want an end to greyhound racing.
The first nationally representative public survey carried out in late 2022, found that 74% of New Zealanders would vote to ban greyhound racing in a referendum with 61% wanting a ban on commercial greyhound racing.
In April 2023 Camorra Research conducted a follow up re-contact study to understand support and preference for alternative options to banning commercial greyhound racing, and the impact of the Government’s delay on a decision.
It established that 61% of New Zealanders want a ban on commercial greyhound racing, with a transition period to allow the rehoming of dogs currently involved in the industry. Support drops significantly for alternatives, such as a ban on gambling on greyhound racing (42%) or a requirement to race on straight tracks only (36%).Only 6% of respondents support the continuation of racing as it currently is. It also found just under half of New Zealanders (48%) would have a more negative view of the current Government if they postponed taking action until after the election. While many sat in neutral territory, only 7% would lean towards a more positive view given a delay.
SPCA Chief Science Officer Dr Arnja Dale says there is no logical remaining argument for keeping commercial greyhound racing.
“What these surveys have told us is that the Government has the clear support from the public to take action now,” says Ms Dale. “There is an overwhelming preference for the ban and planning is needed urgently to ensure the welfare of these race dogs. Future certainty is something all parties need really, and delaying the decision can only do more harm than good.”
“Today's reports just repeat the same information we have known for a decade. Damning independent report after damning independent report, and now very strong evidence of public support to ban - the time is now. No more chances for greyhound racing – the right decision is clear as day.”
Minister McAnulty has invited SPCA to discuss the matter on 1 June 2023. The charity has already indicated it would be on hand to provide advice during any transition period to help protect the welfare of racing dogs requiring rehoming.
*Survey information: Camorra Research were commissioned to undertake an independent, robust and representative analysis of sentiment towards commercial greyhound racing among the New Zealand population. A representative sample of 1,327 were interviewed in the initial 2022 research, all of whom were invited to take part in a short follow up survey in April 2023. In the follow up survey a nationally representative sample of 956 were interviewed. Sample representative of the New Zealand population by age, gender, region.