Animal welfare charities issue joint call to end greyhound racing in the UK

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Three of the UK’s largest animal welfare organisations – Dogs Trust, the RSPCA and Blue Cross – are calling for greyhound racing to come to an end in the UK, due to “significant welfare issues for racing greyhounds which have not been resolved and cannot be resolved”.

The statement reads, “Greyhound racing is inherently dangerous for the dogs involved. Running at speed around oval tracks causes significant injury to many dogs, and in some cases the injuries are so severe that it is necessary to euthanise the dog.

“The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) is the self-regulating organisation that governs licensed greyhound racing in Great Britain. Data from GBGB show that over 2,000 greyhounds died and nearly 18,000 injuries were recorded from greyhound racing between 2018 and 2021, with additional dogs injured on independent tracks.”

“It is simply not acceptable that nearly 2,000 greyhounds died over the last four years, with close to 18,000 injuries recorded”

Owen Sharp, Dogs Trust Chief Executive, said, “We’ve worked closely with the greyhound industry for many years to try to improve welfare conditions for the dogs, but progress has not been made quickly enough, or on a big enough scale. It is simply not acceptable that nearly 2,000 greyhounds died over the last four years, with close to 18,000 injuries recorded, all in the name of entertainment.

“We are fully committed to the welfare of all greyhounds affected by our call for a phased end to the sport. We will continue to work collaboratively with the industry and other stakeholders to ensure the welfare of dogs is not compromised while working towards this.”

Dogs Trust, the RSPCA and Blue Cross are part of the Greyhound Forum, and for years they have worked worked with the greyhound racing industry to improve the lives of racing dogs.

Greyhound racing
Image by MICHOFF on Pixabay

However, they have come to the conclusion that despite some improvements there are still too many unsolved welfare issues as well as “ineffective regulation within the sector, a lack of transparency regarding industry practices, and additional concerns around the enforcement of regulatory standards”.

“Comprehensive internal reviews conducted by the Dogs Trust, RSPCA and Blue Cross highlighted serious concerns at every stage of a racing greyhound’s life including issues around inadequate welfare standards in kennelling and transporting the dogs,” the charities have stated.

“Some of the dogs used in racing are kept in poor, barren conditions, with little if any enrichment and fed a poor diet. The reviews also highlighted concerns around the general health of the dogs including the number and severity of injuries sustained during racing.”

“Dogs Trust, RSPCA and Blue Cross want to see an end to greyhound racing announced as soon as possible, and expect the phase out to be feasible within five years”

“There are also serious issues around the racing of greyhounds in extreme weather and the number of puppies that are unaccounted for between birth and racing registrations, so often referred to by the sector as the ‘wastage’.

“Dogs Trust, RSPCA and Blue Cross also believe that the absence of a sustainable and consistent source of income for the industry has grossly impacted any meaningful change for the dogs involved. However, even if the considerable finances needed to continue were made available, a complete overhaul of the sport is necessary to ensure it is compatible with good welfare.

“Dogs Trust, RSPCA and Blue Cross want to see an end to greyhound racing announced as soon as possible, and expect the phase out to be feasible within five years to allow the racing industry and animal welfare organisations to carefully plan and coordinate the care of the many dogs affected.”

“In 2021 there were in excess of 18,000 licensed greyhounds eligible to race in GBGB races, with additional greyhounds racing on the independent tracks. In some parts of the UK, such as in Wales where there is just one track, it is expected that the phase-out period needed will be significantly shorter.”

In March this year, MPs debated an e-petition calling for a ban on greyhound racing; the Government, however, maintained that a ban would be “unnecessary”.

The GBGB has responded to the charities’ announcement, saying, “This is pandering to the whims of extremists – quoting data that is inaccurate, making claims that do not stand up to challenge and trying to galvanise support at a time when the real emergency in animal welfare is elsewhere.”

“Their internal review is an amateur exercise in trying to make political capital rather than a data and fact-led approach to welfare”

Jeremy Cooper, Chair of the GBGB and former Chief Executive of the RSPCA, said, “These are the ill-conceived tactics of organisations feeling pressured into playing to the extremists in their midst. It is less about greyhounds and animal welfare and far more about attempting to galvanise funding and support at the extreme end of the animal rights movement.

“This is the edge of the slippery slope and I know that everyone involved with horse racing, other animals in sport and all working animals will be concerned that, if such calls are taken seriously, they will be next.

“We are fortunate that all the major political parties see through the tactics of the RSPCA, Blue Cross and Dogs Trust and have welcomed our approach to regulation and welfare. Their internal review is an amateur exercise in trying to make political capital rather than a data and fact-led approach to welfare. It is sad and disappointing that once respected animal charities have succumbed to the agendas of the extremists.”

1 COMMENT

  1. I am delighted that the main animal charities have turned their backs on the greyhound industry. Greyhounds are magnificent dogs and make wonderful therapy dogs. Three of mine are registered Pets As Therapy dogs and they are very well received everywhere they go. I am lucky enough to have seven of these stunning dogs; I couldn’t have that quantity with any other breed.
    Every time a greyhound is placed in a trap to race, owners and trainers are putting their dogs’ lives at risk, knowingly. Racing has no place in our modern society.

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