Smokescreens and mirrors - an industry on notice
The New Zealand Government has placed the greyhound racing industry on notice. Despite three independent reviews over the last decade, decisions within the greyhound racing industry are still murky to those on the outside.
SPCA is calling for an end to commercial greyhound racing in New Zealand – one of only seven countries left operating commercial-level greyhound racing. Recently, the States of Arkansas, Florida and Iowa have all announced phase-outs of greyhound racing.
In addition, we want the decision to be transparent. The Racing Integrity Board is assessing the performance of Greyhound Racing New Zealand based on key performance indicators, and will use the results to make the decision at the end of 2022. Where are these indicators, and what are they measuring?
SPCA was removed from the industry’s health and welfare committee in March this year, just days after a racing dog died. Previously, we had an SPCA representative on the committee, to bring our animal welfare expertise to the table, make recommendations, and to be there as an advocate for the greyhounds. Greyhound Racing NZ decided SPCA should no longer be a part of their committee - without formal notice.
All three independent reviews into the welfare of dogs within the greyhound racing industry: the 2013 WHK Report, the 2017 Hansen Report, and the 2021 Robertson Report, have reported significant animal welfare issues both on and off the track, problems with data recording and a lack of transparency.
The 2021 Robertson Report highlighted some of the same concerns that the WHK Report raised eight years earlier. This demonstrated lack of change is not acceptable. The Robertson Report concluded that if Greyhound Racing New Zealand (GRNZ) wants to secure its future it must demonstrate the decency of the industry, but it has made its job harder by unnecessarily obscuring information and pushing back against those with an interest.*
In response to the 2021 Robertson Report, Minister Robertson stated that “I want to be clear today – the greyhound racing industry is on notice: either make the improvements needed or risk closure.”
The New Zealand Animal Law Association has stated that greyhound racing, with its associated injuries, could even be an offence for ill-treatment under the Animal Welfare Act. However, the Racing Act permits the activity to continue.
With a recommendation by Minister McAnulty to Cabinet due at the end of this year outlining whether commercial greyhound racing has a future in our country, this is the window of opportunity for us to stop these dogs suffering for sport. Will you join us?