All of the dogs I have had in my life have been adopted.
Our first family dog came from a no-kill shelter; our second from a supermarket notice board. A local re-homing group, Dogwatch, facilitated my first adoption as an owner; my second dog, Daisy, came in a private adoption through word-of-mouth, and in 2014 Izzy, a greyhound adopted through the national adoption group Greyhounds as Pets, arrived on the scene.
Worldwide, there are more dogs that need homes than there are adoptive homes to care for them and this situation is no different for the greyhounds of New Zealand’s racing industry.
As of 2018, New Zealand is one of only eight territories in the world with a commercial greyhound racing industry. The others in alphabetical order are Australia, Ireland, Macau, Mexico, United Kingdom, the United States (five states only), and Vietnam.
But many New Zealanders are unaware of the findings of The Hansen Report, which was publicly released in the busy pre-Christmas period of December 2017. Formally titled A Report to the NZ Racing Board on Welfare Issues Affecting Greyhound Racing New Zealand, the report was written by the Hon Rodney Hansen, QC.
I won’t go into all of the findings in this blog post (the report is 93 pages). But the statistical analysis of the racing industry’s own data show that despite the efforts of all of the re-homing groups in the country combined, re-homing can’t deal with the influx of greyhounds leaving the industry. The report deems this a ‘current structural imbalance’ and recommends that ‘re-homing alone cannot solve the problems created by excessive numbers of greyhounds entering the industry each year.’
The bottom line? There’s still a lot to be done to look after the welfare of the greyhounds in the NZ racing industry. In the four-year period between 2013/14 and 2016/17, the whereabouts of 1,271 dogs could not even be determined and another 1,447 hounds were officially euthanised.
Upon the report’s release, Racing Minister Winston Peters described the findings as both disturbing and disappointing. While the racing industry has said it intends to act on all findings, those actions will take time.
And that is why I volunteer with Greyhounds as Pets and also offer my fundraising support. Because there are so many hounds in need of an adoptive home.
As with children, dogs don’t ask to be born. But it is our responsibility as a society to care for them once they are brought into the world.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand