Government won't commit to banning greyhound racing as industry faces another major review

Kristin Hall
Source: 1News

The greyhound racing industry's facing another major review into its operations, but the Government won’t commit to banning the sport.

Racing minister Grant Robertson’s announced a review amid concerns that changes demanded three years ago aren't being made.

In 2017 the Hansen report into the greyhound racing industry found data was lacking and the number of greyhounds entering the industry hadn't reduced significantly. It made 20 recommendations, but Robertson says it's not clear they're are being acted on, and wants assurances on animal welfare.

“For example at the Whanganui track there've been a number of incidents, we need to make sure if this industry's going to carry on that the dogs are being looked after.”

“Transparency is an issue … MPI officials have told us their requests for information haven't been followed up.”

It comes as calls grow to ban the sport completely, the Green Party's drafting a bill, and a petition by SAFE's gathered 26,000 signatures. While Robertson says he isn’t ruling a ban out, he won't commit to one.

“We’re not currently looking into a ban, what we want to do at the moment is make sure we understand what has been done and what needs to be done. The greyhound racing industry has told us animal welfare is at the top of their list. This is their opportunity to prove that.”

SAFE chief executive Debra Ashton says there’s “no way” animal welfare can be guaranteed while the sport exists.

“The industry is self-regulated, it’s a massive issue already, when you've got the fox looking after the hen house it’s easy to say “there's nothing to see here”’.

Greyhound Racing New Zealand refused an interview but told 1 NEWS there have been 107 euthanisations and 21 sudden deaths of greyhounds in the last nine months. It says it welcomes the review into the industry but disputes the claim it hasn't acted on requests for reports.

"Although we are still in our current racing season, we can see that our euthanisation numbers have decreased by 39.7% when compared with the year prior," a spokesperson said.

"We are confident that we are on track with everything we have been asked to do. It is incorrect that we have not acted on requests for reports."

Greyhound trainer Robin Wales owns shares in 130 dogs, he says the industry has made improvements and that the review is "rubbish".

"Will they ban horse racing next? The dogs love to race" he says.

"Now it's all changed. Dogs are not getting put down, alright? They're getting rehomed, it's great for the dogs."

But SPCA chief scientific officer Dr Arnja Dale disputes that.

"Only a small amount of dogs are able to be rehomed or are rehomed, a very small amount and so that's significant."

Rehomed greyhound owner Simon Hartman says while his dog Bean is happy now, it wasn't always that way.

"When we first saw him in the kennel he was throwing himself against the bars and stuff, he just wasn't a very happy boy."

While he wants to see a total racing ban, a closer look into the industry will have to do for now.

Racing Integrity Establishment Board Chair and former judge Sir Bruce Robertson has been appointed to undertake the review which is due on August 1.