A teenage politician was at the forefront of a small protest against greyhound racing at Cambridge Raceway last week.
Animal Justice Party’s Hamilton East candidate Lily Carrington – who turned 18 just before this year’s election – was with her mother, Melanie Wilson.
The pair are members of the Animal Justice Party, and waved placards to attract attention to their cause.
Wilson stood in Hamilton West at the general election, Carrington in Hamilton East.
Some racegoers at a Waikato Greyhound Racing Club meeting last Thursday clashed verbally with four protesters.
The protestors also included Nick Hancock and the Animal Justice Party’s executive president Robert McNeil, who both stood in Auckland seats at this year’s general election – attracting about 300 votes each.
The party itself fielded 17 candidates nationwide and was buoyed days before the general election when both incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and outgoing Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said they would support banning greyhound racing.
Thursday’s race meeting in Cambridge went ahead as planned and featured 12 races.
Trainer backs industry work
“How many kennels do you know of which have carpet, heating and air conditioning? Some of mine do.”
Those were the comments Ōhaupō based greyhound trainer Tom Patton said in response to last week’s small protest at the Cambridge Raceway.
He said greyhound racing was one of the most regulated sports in the country.
Patton has been training and racing greyhounds for 10 years.
He has 10 dogs – some preparing for a racing career, two currently racing and the rest are retired.
Patton said he and other trainers took great care to look after the welfare of his greyhounds.
While he wasn’t at Thursday’s race meeting in Cambridge, he heard about it happening. He disputed the protesters claims.
“They are entitled to their opinion, but I’d say the greyhound industry is one of the most regulated in New Zealand. I’m confident all their concerns are things we as an industry have either already moved to address, or plan to address.”
In a statement of intent covering 2023-2025 Greyhound Racing chairman Sean Hannan said safety and animal care remained a core focus for the industry.
“In the coming period, the industry will see a significant capital investment in its infrastructure to enhance safe racing,” he said.
“It is important that the industry retains a variety of track types to suit all racing dogs and that each track is as safe as it can be to minimise racing incidents.
“Along with this, the life of the dog post racing also remains a priority,” he said.
Outside the course Hancock said greyhound racing amounted to animal cruelty was a “blood sport which belongs in the past” and said the party was calling on the Government to take action.
The party itself has previously argued that measures taken by the Greyhound Racing New Zealand were not enough.
Greyhound racing in New Zealand is a $92 million industry which employs 800 people.
There are 40 registered greyhound trainers in New Zealand.
Greyhound Racing New Zealand (GRNZ) chief executive Edward Rennell told Stuff the comments from the leading politicians were disappointing.
“We believe the progress that has been made in the last year shows the industry has made significant improvements and there are no grounds for closing us down,” he said.
Among the steps taken by the industry is a programme to house dogs after their racing days.
The Great Mates programme is dedicated to rehoming greyhounds and one of those support kennels is based in Cambridge.
Greyhound racing is only seen in eight countries – New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, USA, Vietnam, China and Mexico.