Quarterly Greyhound Racing Hansen Report Update


(Quarter 5, May 2019)

Our focus during this quarter has been on trialling and implementing new track safety initiatives, advancing our revised vaccinations program and preparing for the introduction of our new rehoming program.  This particular update focuses on these three recommendations. 

The major fifth quarter interventions (as numbered by way of recommendations in the Hansen Report) are recorded below:

Recommendation #4: Vaccinations

GRNZ has been working closely with a newly instituted Licenced Persons Advisory Group, as well as our independent Animal Welfare Committee on creating a comprehensive vaccination regime.

While it is important to note that vaccinations are already a requirement under the rules of racing for the industry, Hansen Recommendation #4 asked GRNZ to oversee the introduction of a more comprehensive regime, that introduced more regular vaccination checkpoints and confirmations.

This project encompasses two work streams for GRNZ:  A practical implementation and ongoing enforcement model, as well as a connected database update to manage and maintain the operational model.  

We have not reported previously on this project as it required a major database and policy build.  

We wish to acknowledge from the outset that there remain substantial challenges with the database update.  These technology issues revolve around introducing additional complexity into a fixed system, but we are advised they can be overcome.  We are absolutely committed to this undertaking and we will make a series of staged implementation steps over the coming months to ensure a practical outcome ‘on the ground’.  However, we note that the database project is a work in progress and that this aspect of the process will likely be phased in over a longer period than the policy. To be clear, this will still be within our overall horizon for Hansen Report responses.

We can, however, report positive progress on the policy front.  Progress began last year when GRNZ introduced Health and Welfare Standards, and specifically the GRNZ Vaccination Policy as at 1 August 2018.  A transitional period of education and to enable LPs to get vaccinations up-to-date has been provided and we would expect to see vaccinations be pursuant to our new process by 1 August 2019. 

The flow chart below outlines the vaccination requirements and processes under these standards:


More specifically, we outline our expected process changes in the following table:



Our current activity in support of the vaccinations workstream includes:

  • The GRNZ database being upgraded to include an area for all vaccinations to be entered by GRNZ, including historical naming vaccinations for all current racing greyhounds.  This is proving to be a more complex and interrelated undertaking than we first expected but we remain committed to the outcome and to working on the system. Features we aim to offer include:

    • LPs will be provided with a log in to access an area on the website that lists all historical and upcoming vaccination due dates for each greyhound in their care, and

    • This system will eventually link to our new rehoming database so that vaccination information can be accessed during rehoming of retired greyhounds.

    • A monthly email to alert LPs which greyhounds are due vaccinations within the following month.

  • GRNZ Vaccination Books will be designed to slot into a sleeve at the back of the race book so that the book gets transferred easily between owners/kennels. 

  • For new puppies, a vaccination book for each will be sent out after the results of whelping is received in the office.

  • At the time of microchipping/ear branding (ideally between 10-12 weeks), the ear brander will insert one of the microchip stickers into the front of the puppies vaccination book as part of their procedure. These ID details will be provided to the breeder to provide vaccination information with the Litter Registration Form.

Recommendation #1 and #3

Social Exposure and Environmental Guidelines

Recommendation #1 was primarily focussed on GRNZ adopting the then proposed Health and Welfare Standards.  As part of these standards, there was a desire to include a socialisation and habituation practices, as there was a view that these initiatives would make rehoming greyhounds at the end of their racing career a simpler undertaking.

The initiative reflects the view that an animal conditioned to humans at an early age is better placed to make a transition from racing to pet life.   

Recommendation #3 was primarily focussed on GRNZ continuing to encourage training and publishing education materials for trainers, with a particular focus on the new welfare standards.

GRNZ can now confirm that it has incorporated these ‘socialisation’ guidelines into the Breeder Education Guideline booklet. 

The booklet contains important information which is used as an educational tool for all breeders. The information is comprehensive and has been modernised to include all of today's GRNZ Health and Welfare standards. The booklet will be sent out with each new litter registration, and will be sent ‘one booklet per puppy’ so they can be passed on to new owner/trainers.

We are pleased with these new guidelines as they will be the first in a number of educational tools we intend to roll out as part of the Hansen report recommendations.

We note that we intend on gathering feedback from the community over these guidelines, and have introduced them into the Breeder Education Guideline booklet as a means of exposing them to the community and approaching the industry with an ‘education first’ process.   

Recommendation #20: Track Safety Initiatives

By way of background, this recommendation included an element of ongoing vigilance and recognised that GRNZ was already undertaking a significant track safety regime. 

Our previous quarterly update touched on the extended arm trial - which has been concluded - at the Christchurch Racing club. GRNZ is pleased to confirm that the trial was a success and that the arm is officially set to be the racing arm/lure as of the 28th May 2019. Additionally, GRNZ was successful with an application to the Ministers Racing Safety Development fund for this project, and this means the national roll out will happen as planned.  We record our thanks to the Minister for this fund and the positive contribution it makes to the racing industry.

New extended lure arm at Christchurch track - in race day operation from 28 May 2019.

Another initiative that has significant animal welfare and safety benefits has been the introduction of safety pads around the outside racing fence. Again, GRNZ has been successful in an application to the Ministers Racing Safety Development Fund for the extension of these pads at the Wanganui and Manawatu tracks.  Each track has had a further 50m of pads fitted to the areas where they were most exposed, meaning that the racing dogs race experience has been greatly improved.

Additionally, after recommendations from Australian experts brought to New Zealand by GRNZ, Manawatu has replaced the 395m distance with a 410m race distance - effectively changing the location of the starting block for the animals.  The new distance has proven to be safer in terms of injury reduction. As part of this undertaking, we can confirm that the track had to be redesigned including increased track width at the first bend, and preparing the rail for the new extended lure-arm. Also, the boxes are now rolled onto the track, via a new ramp, and the track has been widened at that point accordingly.  You can see this innovative solution from the photo below.

Recommendation #15: Update on Rehoming

Rehoming of our retired greyhounds continues to be a high priority for GRNZ. 

GRNZ has entered the final stage for preparing and implementing a new and national rehoming model. The project will shortly go to market for more kennel hands in the main Levin kennels, and a new position of overall Rehoming Manager. These positions should be filled by 1 July 2019 for Levin, before starting the rehoming model nationwide on the 1 August 2019.  This work is the result of a substantial investment in the new model and a major upgrade of the Levin site.

Currently Levin is operating on 26 kennels out of 62 kennels. The new project will take a two phase approach:  1 July an additional 20 kennels will be opened to accommodate more animals, and the remainder of the kennel spaces will be opened two weeks later. This allows for any unforeseen issues to be dealt with early on, as well as give the project time to train new kennel hands.  The team are also consulting with a kennel in Rangiora to get an additional 20 kennels in the South Island as well as assessing properties in the Upper North Island (Cambridge region). 

Discussions are also well underway regarding a centralized database to store animal information for all involved in the rehoming programme to access easily.  This is a new and exciting opportunity as for the first time we are incorporating more than one rehoming partner into the system.   

Finally, we note that our Great Mates prison program is continuing to prove successful.  This program puts greyhounds in prison and matches them with prisoners who care for them and prepare the dogs for life as a family pet.  While work at Rimutaka continues we can now confirm that we are in additional discussions with Corrections about the possibility of similar arrangements at Arohata Women’s Prison in Tawa.

Posted on 9/07/2019 12:50:30 PM

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