Five greyhounds euthanised in three weeks at Whanganui race track

Five greyhounds euthanised in three weeks at Whanganui race track
Photo credit: Getty Images

Five racing dog deaths at a Whanganui track have resulted in calls for it to be closed and investigated.

In less than one month, eight greyhounds have been euthanised in New Zealand, five of which were at the Whanganui Greyhound Track, which animal rights group SAFE calls a "death track".

SAFE spokesperson Will Appelbe is calling on the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to immediately close the track and launch an investigation.

"While Kiwis enjoyed their unstoppable summer, the greyhound death toll has soared over the last three weeks," he said.

"The five dogs killed at the Whanganui racetrack is appalling and warrants an immediate investigation. The buck stops with MPI and they must intervene."

These five dogs were euthanised between December 18 and January 6.

MPI says it intends to talk to Greyhound Racing NZ (GRNZ), the operators of the Whanganui track, about any concerns.

"Where there are breaches of animal welfare rules MPI investigates," a spokesperson says.

"The suspension of racing at any track is a question for its operators and the New Zealand Racing Integrity Unit, which has oversight. MPI does not have the legal power to close a track."

Applebe says greyhounds are the only dogs "New Zealand doesn't seem to care about".

"Greyhound racing is dangerous, and these dogs belong on someone's couch, not the racetrack. A ban on greyhound racing is long overdue."

GRNZ told Stuff that greyhound racing is a "well-regulated sport" and the Whanganui track has been improved.

"GRNZ has initiated the manufacture of a new track groomer for Whanganui which is capable of delivering a very consistent racing surface for every race or trial," a spokesperson told the outlet.

"We have onsite vet checks prior to each race and any dogs found to be carrying an injury are subject to strict stand down periods."

The spokesperson added they have a Racing Integrity Unit that records all racing incidents and post-race vet checks, which are then all reported on the GRNZ website.

SAFE, alongside The Greyhound Protection League, have launched a petition to Parliament to ban commercial greyhound racing in New Zealand.

"We believe it is inconsistent with the spirit of the Animal Welfare Act and that, as an industry, greyhound racing has shown it cannot and will not stop killing hundreds of greyhounds, simply to provide entertainment and gambling profits," they say.

That campaign has been joined by GREY2K USA Worldwide, a global greyhound advocacy organisation.

"As long as dog racing continues, greyhounds will suffer and die," GREY2K president and general counsel Christine A. Dorchak says. 

"It is time to shut down this cruel track and every track in New Zealand."