Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Racing dogs to be tracked from birth

Photo / File
Photo / File

Every dog bred for racing will have to be tracked from birth to death if a recommendation to Government is accepted, following a report which claimed that up to 10,000 greyhounds were unaccounted for.

A Parliamentary Committee recommended changes for the greyhound racing industry and animal welfare watchdogs in response to a petition which claimed that too many dogs were bred and many were killed young or while still healthy.

The petition was signed by 1590 people and submitted by Greyhound Protection League founder Aaron Cross.

Mr Cross wanted greyhound racing to be banned or for the industry to at least face higher welfare standards. He told the committee that registration systems did not accurately track how many dogs were used in racing or when they were retired, and claimed that up to 10,000 ex-racing dogs were unaccounted for.

The industry completed an internal review last year, and the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee said it appeared that steps were being taken to improve the welfare of racing dogs.

New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association chief Jim Leach agreed that too many greyhounds were being bred, and said that the industry would attempt to introduce restrictions. He said that if possible, the association would attempt to create another class of racing for slower dogs so that owners would be less likely to euthanase them.

"Up until now, we've had no real restrictions. It's been a commercial decision and you take your chances. We don't believe that's good enough in today's environment, so we'll be bringing restrictions in on the number of dogs being bred."

MPs on the committee emphasized that greyhound racing was legal in New Zealand and they did not plan to enter the moral debate about using animals for entertainment. But they said that some welfare concerns needed to be addressed.

The committee's report, released this week, recommended that amendments to the Animal Welfare Act included provisions on the welfare of racing greyhounds.

It recommended that the New Zealand Racing Board reviewed whether the industry's internal welfare proposals had been implemented by August 2014.

The report also asked the Department of Internal Affairs to create a database of greyhounds which tracked their identity and location until death.

At present, dogs were registered with local councils but bulk licensing was permitted, which made it difficult to trace the animals. This information was fed to the DIA, but the department did not hold data on which dogs were used for racing.

- NZ Herald

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