Greyhound racing bosses have called an immediate halt to racing at the Whanganui track that has seen a spate of recent injuries.
In a significant move to improve greyhound welfare, Greyhound Racing New Zealand has closed Hatrick Raceway at Whanganui indefinitely pending an independent review.
The decision was made in consultation with the Racing Integrity Board and comes after GRNZ vowed to improve track safety and the overall welfare of the dogs following a highly-critical report of the industry last month that had Racing Minister Grant Robertson demanding change.
Robertson effectively put the greyhound code on notice that failure to implement safer practices and to work on the rehoming of retired dogs would threaten the future of the industry.
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The closure of the Whanganui track, which is a regular Friday night fixture on the New Zealand racing calendar, is a huge step and one that suggests GRNZ have heeded Robertson's warning.
"The health and welfare of our greyhounds is paramount," said GRNZ chief executive Glenda Hughes.
"We will use the findings of the assessment to implement the changes necessary to ensure that the track provides consistently safe footing for our greyhounds."
The issue with the Whanganui track will almost certainly be the track surface, with lower leg injuries the most common risk for greyhounds.
Fixes could include resurfacing the track to ensure it isn't patchy or gets too hard after rain and potentially even increasing the camber on bends so dogs are comfortable with more even weight distribution on their legs when cornering at speed.
Greyhound racing has come under fire from animal rights campaigners after unacceptable rates of deaths in racing dogs in the past, although those numbers have improved dramatically over the last year.
The smaller of the three racing codes in New Zealand, greyhounds have also implemented a successful rehoming programme for dogs no longer suitable for racing, a major issue for all racing codes worldwide.