Despite four independent reviews into the industry – all of which found significant animal welfare issues – the previous Minister for Racing, Keiran McAnulty, failed to make a recommendation to Cabinet on whether the industry should continue.
National Leader and newly elected Prime Minister, Christopher Luxon, has promised his Government will ban greyhound racing, but the question remains; when?
SPCA Chief Executive Todd Westwood says there are major animal welfare concerns surrounding the industry and he’s urging the Government to announce an end to the sport, sooner rather than later.
“Every day this decision is dragged out is another day these innocent animals continue to suffer – both on the racetrack and off it,” says Mr Westwood. “As well as catastrophic racing injuries – some of which result in death – many of these dogs are subjected to poor living conditions, inadequate socialisation, and significant health issues. I implore the new Government to act swiftly to put a stop to this industry, which has proven time and time again that animal welfare is not a priority."
Since the most recent report into the industry in 2021, serious injury rates among racing greyhounds have continued to increase. This – coupled with numerous other concerns – highlights the fact the industry is not doing enough to improve the welfare of its animals.
The former Government promised a decision on the industry’s future by the end of 2022, but delayed until after the election.
“Animal welfare is only likely to further decline the longer this decision is put off, with the industry unlikely to invest in future improvements such as introduction of straight tracks to reduce the risk of injuries, and addressing current health and welfare concerns,” says Mr Westwood.
SPCA Scientific Officer Dr Alison Vaughan says enough is enough, and it’s time a ban was enforced.
“SPCA worked for years with the industry in an attempt to improve welfare outcomes for greyhounds, but the greyhound racing industry has shown it’s unwilling or unable to adequately address their significant animal welfare concerns,” says Dr Vaughan. “The only way to prevent the welfare harms associated with greyhound racing is to ban it, and we know 74% of New Zealanders would support that decision.
“One of our biggest concerns is the industry’s broken rehoming system. More puppies are bred, and dogs imported, for use in racing than can be rehomed once no longer of value to the industry. This is simply unsustainable and irresponsible,” says Dr Vaughan.
If the industry is shutdown, SPCA is willing to work with Greyhound Racing New Zealand, other animal rescues, existing rehoming organisations and greyhound trainers during a transition period to help them rehome greyhounds, in the event that trainers cannot keep all of their dogs.
You can read more about SPCA’s advocacy work to end greyhound racing in New Zealand via our website.