NZ GAP Program Slammed For Sub Standard Care

A Christchurch woman says she is horrified at the poor condition of a greyhound kept in kennels as part of a retirement scheme for racing dogs.

Three-year-old male greyhound Luka was sent to a West Melton kennels, which secured a contract to care for the dogs on behalf of the Greyhounds as Pets (GAP) scheme.

GAP, which is overseen and funded by the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association, pulled Luka and four other dogs out of the kennels, claiming they were being mistreated.

The kennel owners have denied they were mistreating the dogs and say GAP is “looking for someone to blame”.

Dawn Sheard, a Merivale real estate agent, has been caring for Luka since May.

She said he was in a such a bad condition when he left the kennels the vet had wanted to put him down.

“He was just 16kg when he came out of the kennels,” she said.

“When I first got him I thought, `Oh, my God, I hope people don’t think I have been mistreating him’.”

Apart from being extremely thin, Luka was also covered in sores, some of which penetrated to the bone.

Sheard said Luka was now well on the way to recovery and was a wonderful pet.

“If I had the space I would definitely get another one. I have got three grandchildren and he’s just wonderful with them,” she said.

“When I got this one people seemed to think he might be vicious, but he is the furthest you can imagine from vicious.”

As part of the GAP scheme, dogs that have reached the end of their racing career are cared for in kennels before being housed with members of the public.

GAP southern regional co-ordinator Antonia Steeg said the dogs were taken away from the kennels in West Melton after she visited and became “deeply concerned”.

“I felt very, very angry about it. We cancelled the contract straight away and got all the dogs out of there before they died,” she said.

Steeg claimed the dogs were not being fed properly and had to sleep with no blankets on concrete.

The GAP board had taken the decision not to report the kennels to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as the dogs were removed safely.

Kennels owner John Hurley said the kennels were usually used to care for friends’ dogs and were not a commercial concern.

Self-employed Hurley said he had tried to provide all the care the dogs needed.

“The dogs were under the care of a vet while they were here. We suspect they may have been on some sort of drugs and were detoxing,” he said.

Hurley said he had never pretended he had any particular qualifications when he began looking after the dogs in April.

“There was already a problem with (Luka) when he came into the kennels but it definitely got worse,” he said.

“We were feeding the dogs on a natural product and we had a diary showing what we were feeding them and when.” He said GAP had “misrepresented” how difficult it would be looking after the dogs.

Courtesy : Giles Brown – The Press