Two greyhound trainers have been fined $2000 and banned from racing for two years after 15 of their dogs were found with excrement in their fur and rotting meat in their cages.
But it's a punishment the Greyhound Protection League has described as a "slap on the wrist" as the animals were all up for retirement and their trainers had no plans to continue racing.
"The fine is a pittance as well," League spokeswoman Emily Robertson told Open Justice.
"It's only $133 per dog. Is that all they're worth?"
Greyhound trainers Trent Agent and Kimberlee Williams had their property in Urenui inspected by Racing Integrity Board staff in June this year.
They found 15 dogs in "squalid" and "inexcusable" conditions.
"Inspectors were aware from a distance on the roadway outside the property of a repugnant odour. Upon opening the doors of the building which housed the kennels, they were confronted by an overpowering odour of dog excrement and rotting meat," the board said in a decision released today. "The 15 greyhounds were located in extremely unhygienic conditions. The faeces, urine and food waste had obviously not been removed from the kennels for some time. Dogs were standing in their own excrement, there was no drainage available and the floor of every kennel was wet. The unsanitary state of the kennels, with faeces, urine and rotted meat, was exacerbated by dirty, wet or non-existent bedding.
"The meat that was present appeared to contain mostly fat, cartilage and visceral tissue. Water containers for the dogs were either empty or contained a small quantity of dirty water."
Staff also found that several of the dogs had pressure sores and one had a large untreated shoulder wound.
"This offending was at the very high end of the scale of seriousness," the board said.
"The conditions in which the greyhounds were found were abhorrent. It was inexcusable for them to be kept in such squalid conditions."
By way of explanation the dogs' owner Kimberlee Williams told Open Justice she would normally clean the kennels daily but there had been heavy rain that had flooded the farm and the shed, and she'd needed to rescue her calves from a river first.
"The kennels were cleaned the night before," she said.
"I do take responsibility for how it looked, in hindsight I should have gone to the dogs before I tended to the calves."
Taranaki Regional Council rainfall records at the nearest measurement site in Motonui show monthly rainfall for the area was 165 per cent above the average for the month.
However, Williams said she didn't agree with the board's assessment that the kennels hadn't been cleaned for "some time" nor that the meat was rotting.
Her partner Trent Agent runs a pet food business and she said the investigators were possibly unfamiliar about the kind of meat she gave to her dogs, such as paddy whack (chewy, dried neck ligament usually from a sheep or cow.)
"Everyone who knows me knows how much I love my dogs," Williams said.
"I hand-fed those dogs and they're acting like I abused them … it's ridiculous."
However, Robertson said it was her opinion that keeping dogs in an area that was liable to flood in heavy rain wasn't okay and they should have been kennelled somewhere more secure.
"If a farmer was caught with animals in a similar condition they would be banned from owning animals."
Robertson said pressure sores, like those found on some of the dogs, didn't happen overnight, or even within a few days.
The SPCA's science officer, Dr Alison Vaughan, said the society had offered its assistance to the Racing Integrity Board in investigating the trainers' property.
"While injuries and deaths occurring on-track often attract more media attention, SPCA is also concerned about widespread welfare issues off track. Concerns raised with the industry include high parasite burdens, blindness, poor dental health, poor living environments generally and a lack of adequate socialisation for puppies," Vaughan said.
"The greyhound racing industry is on notice and we understand the Minister of Racing is due to make a recommendation to Government at the end of this year about whether commercial greyhound racing should continue in New Zealand."
Vaughan said the SPCA was advocating for the end to commercial greyhound racing in New Zealand.