The halt to greyhound racing at Whanganui's Hatrick Raceway because it is unsafe sums up how far the code has come in this country, yet how far it has to go.
Two weeks ago, Greyhound Racing New Zealand suspended racing at Hatrick after a spate of injuries to dogs, more bad news for the embattled code.
GRNZ are launching an independent review into why the track has caused so many injuries at a time when the code has been put on notice by Racing Minister Grant Robertson.
A broad external review of greyhound racing was submitted to Robertson last month and he has told GRNZ to report back by the end of 2022 to prove it has improved the key area of welfare for racing and retired dogs.
If it can't prove it has, the sport's future in New Zealand is in doubt.
After that shot across the bows, GRNZ bosses had little option but to suspend racing at Whanganui, the popular Friday night racing venue, until they discover why so many dogs suffer leg injuries there.
The fact GRNZ did so is a positive. It shows they realise nobody, from industry insiders to casual racing fans, let alone the public with no exposure to the industry, will put up with dogs being injured while people try to make money off them.
Greyhound track expert Nigel Rugg says they don't have to. Rugg is the GRNZ adviser to track curators and says the vast majority of greyhound injuries are to legs, predominantly their hocks, caused when dogs collide usually running into a bend.
"The problem is that some of the tracks in this country are over 20 years old and racing has changed so much," Rugg told the Weekend Herald.
"The racing is faster and the dogs more even, so the bends, like the first bend at Whanganui from the 305m start, need more camber, but even more importantly, a better transition because more dogs are hitting it together.
"That means reshaping that bend so the dogs can approach it at full speed and not have their legs striking the ground at the wrong angles, but more importantly, not all be crashing into each other.
"The vast majority of dog injuries are from these collisions, and we can improve that enormously by redesigning the tracks but that takes money. That is what it comes down to, money," says Rugg.
Put simply, the bigger the dog track, the less congestion, collisions and pressure on dogs' fragile legs, with Rugg suggesting a straight track would enormously reduce racing accidents.
GRNZ's application to build one in Christchurch was turned down but they are in talks for other sites.
The fact Hatrick has been closed until it is fixed indicates GRNZ now understands the safety of its dogs, and society's demand for that, far outweighs the loss of income from the halt to racing.
With a Government light shone on the industry, it no longer operates with a different set of rules from normal society, or even as a sideshow to the far more powerful horse racing industry, many of whose participants have little or nothing to do with greyhound racing.
The two forms of racing still have ties. Turnover on greyhound racing continues to rise and it provides crucial income for TAB NZ, as it is a slick television product, with short races and dogs able to race more often than horses.
GRNZ chairman Sean Hannan says the code is aware of its responsibilities to racing and retired dogs, and claims they have made enormous strides.
"The tracks are already safer than they used to be and we are going to keep working on that, but yes, one thing that takes is money," he says.
"We are very confident we can meet all the recommendations in the latest review of the code and get the Racing Integrity Board to validate that by next year.
"We have to because we want to keep racing but in as safe a form as possible.
"But we are also very aware there is a small group of people who hate greyhound racing and want it banned. Just like there is a small group of people who are diehard enthusiasts and who live for it.
"What we have to do it prove to the 99 per cent of the population who don't really have an opinion that we are not only improving everything, but that above all else, the welfare of the dogs comes first," Hannan says.
While animal welfare groups who would have greyhound racing banned are viewed as the enemy by dog trainers, the reality is the pressure they have exerted has helped force the pace of change that is steering greyhound racing down the right path.
Yet there are some in those groups who will not be interested in safety improvements or the resources being put into retraining retired dogs to be couch potatoes rather than racing machines.
Retired dogs used to have almost nowhere to go but GRNZ's successful rehoming project means homes are now found for almost all retired greyhounds.
Other concerns around racing injuries that result in dogs being euthanised are also lessening.
In the six months to July this year, six dogs were put down, a number neither pleasant nor acceptable, but a vast improvement on the 36 dogs killed due to racing injuries in one six-month period in 2019.
The code's other dark secret, live baiting, in which trainers illegally used live animals such as possums or rabbits as live bait to try and make their dogs run faster in training, is a thing of the past, according to one leading trainer.
"Nobody would do that any more. It is done, completely," the trainer told the Weekend Herald.
"It used to happen — not often, but it did — but since it has been exposed, it has stopped, because if you got caught, you would be banned for life. The world has changed and people realise that."
From its troubled and sometimes dark history, greyhound racing has being dragged into the real world. But some stains take longer than others to wash out.
Better tracks will help but those closest to the dogs say specialist veterinarians are also needed to help detect issues in dogs before they break down, as well as treat those who are injured.
"Vets who know a lot about greyhounds would be a huge help. And a huge growth business for the vets involved; big money," says the trainer.
Vets attend every meeting in the country and all dogs are checked before being allowed to start.
One greyhound a month euthanised because of racetrack injuries in this country is still less than one per cent of the 1388 dogs euthanised from Auckland City Council dog pounds in 2020.
Still, one racing dog dying is one too many, and for GRNZ, the target, even if unachievable, needs to be zero.
Nobody wants that zero more than the people who spend every day with greyhounds.
"We love our animals, otherwise we wouldn't dedicate our lives to them, because we surely don't do it for the money," says the trainer.
"We love the dogs, so when we hear people claim we don't, it bloody hurts.
"We are humans, just like the animal activists are, too, but we spend all day with these animals.
"It hurts that people want to take it away from us," says the trainer. "And if they do, then what happens to all these dogs?"