Greyhound Racing NZ lashes out at SPCA over offer to rehome dogs if industry is closed

Greyhound Racing New Zealand is lashing out at the SPCA, saying the animal charity's offer to rehome greyhounds should the racing industry be shut down is "purely political and disingenuous".   

However, the charity has hit back pointing to ongoing animal welfare issues in the industry.  

On Sunday night Newshub reported that Racing Minister Winston Peters will make a call on the future of the greyhound racing industry within weeks.  

Briefing papers to Peters, obtained by Newshub, say Cabinet "must" decide if the greyhound racing industry has the social licence to continue.  

It comes as four animal welfare groups, including the SPCA, wrote an open letter to commit to help rehome greyhounds should the sport be shut down.  

It's no secret that greyhound racing is on thin ice. There have been multiple reports over the past decade raising serious issues about injuries, deaths and transparency in the industry. 

The previous Labour Government put the industry on notice, saying it risked being closed down completely.  

Briefing documents provided to Minister Peters, obtained by Newshub under the Official Information Act, state Cabinet "must" decide if the sport has the social licence to continue, which will likely be a "value-based/political decision".  

But the industry is coming out swinging. In a press release on Monday, GRNZ says it "firmly believes there are no grounds for greyhound racing to be banned", arguing it does have the social license to operate.   

The release went on to highlight the "significant progress" it says it's made in the past few years in regard to animal welfare. It also committed to ongoing improvements and highlighted its $8 million annual spend on animal welfare.   

GRNZ then lashed out at the SPCA saying it was rejecting its offer to rehome dogs if the industry is closed. GRNZ said the SPCA's "values around rehoming do not align with ours".   

"Notwithstanding the fact that GRNZ believes that grounds for industry closure do not exist, GRNZ would not be comfortable aligning with the SPCA in the rehoming space, as their values around rehoming do not align with ours," GRNZ said.   

"GRNZ finds their 'commitment to assisting the industry' in this area ironic, given the SPCA is reputed to euthanise healthy animals which they are unable to rehome. The extent of this is unknown, as unlike its Australian counterpart (RSPCA) and many local authorities, the SPCA does not transparently report such statistical information.  

"Accordingly, GRNZ considers the SPCA’s offer of assistance to be purely political and disingenuous. We challenge the SPCA to make its euthanasia statistics publicly available - like the greyhound racing industry does."  

SPCA chief scientific officer Dr Arnja Dale said the organisation is thrilled to hear GRNZ has "committed to rehoming its beautiful dogs in the event of industry closure".   

"This means there is no perceived or real obstacle for this industry being shut down once and for all."  

Dr Dale said the industry is "on notice" and pointed to a survey from January which found 74 percent of New Zealanders agree the industry should end.    

"GRNZ’s aggressive attack on organisations dedicated to animal welfare is unsurprising, though it does appear somewhat ungracious to knock back the offer of help so soon after the deaths of two dogs on Thursday racing at Addington.  

"Mortality rate is a flawed metric as it does nothing to capture the injuries and suffering animals endure.  

"Sir Bruce Robertson cautioned in his review of greyhound racing in New Zealand that GRNZ must consider whether 'the reputation of the industry based on a single metric [euthanasia] is being prioritised over animal welfare standards'."  

Dr Dale added the offer by Dogwatch, HUHA, SAFE and SPCA to help rehome greyhounds still stands.  

New Zealand is among just seven countries where greyhound racing is still legal. Australia, the United Kingdom, and Ireland still allow greyhound racing. 

The sport is permitted in some states in the United States. Mexico has just one track, and in Vietnam, while legal, the country has no operating racing tracks at all.