Greyhound bosses want own industry probe

20:46, Oct 29 2012
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CHASING: Greyhound racing bosses want an inquiry into their industry, but also want to chose the people doing the review.

Greyhound racing bosses are backing calls for an inquiry into their industry.

But they are refusing moves for any inquiry to be carried out by independent observers, with Greyhound Racing New Zealand general manager Jim Leach saying his officials are the best equipped to review the at-times deadly industry.

Calls for an independent inquiry into greyhound racing, and its growing death toll, have been made by the Greyhound Protection League and the Green Party following investigations first by the Sunday Star-Times and now TV3's 60 Minutes. "Our view is that there is no need for an independent inquiry," Leach said.

"We believe we can get appropriate people to have the investigation for us."

Leach said officials were confident of confirming their investigation's terms of reference in time for GNZ's next board meeting in late November. An inquiry could be launched before Christmas.

When asked if a perceived lack of independence would give the industry's critics further ammunition, Leach responded: "Some of them seem determined to do that anyway. But we are as keen as anybody to identify whether these comments made by the 60 Minutes people are correct or not.

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"We want the industry to be as well managed as we can. I don't think we have any reason why we wouldn't want to make it a genuine inquiry."

Greyhound Protection League spokesman Aaron Cross - the owner of Pax, a former racing dog - says there is enough evidence for greyhound racing to be banned for "humane reasons".

Cross said the industry had consistently been guilty of not having adequate safety guards for dogs both at the prime of their racing career and when they were retired.

It was also a "grave concern" for him that the industry had been outed for reporting to the public that dogs had been officially "retired" when they had in fact been euthanised.

"This level of dishonesty is unacceptable, and we welcome the Green Party's call for an independent inquiry into the dog racing industry," Cross said.

"The greyhound racing industry behaves irresponsibly, breeding and importing far more dogs than it is capable of rehoming once these animals' careers are over. There is no room for losers in this industry, it's an industry that exists purely for gambling enjoyment."

The Star-Times launched an investigation into the racing industry in August, following the deaths of three racing dogs on New Zealand tracks within the space of a week.

We revealed that up to 10,000 dogs - including former racers and their offspring - were deemed "missing" by the GPL.

Cross said that each year the greyhound racing population increases by about 1450 dogs, a figure combining New Zealand-bred puppies and those imported from Australia.

On that basis, he said, New Zealand's total greyhound population should stand at between 12,000 to 14,000.

But a survey carried out by the GPL - that involved reviewing local body dog licensing registration records - showed that there were just 3000 registered greyhounds in New Zealand.

Opponents of the industry say the figures showed greyhound owners either weren't registering their dogs, or thousands bred for racing were killed if they didn't meet expectations or were past their best.

Sunday Star Times