The Greyhound Board of Great Britain 2019 injury, death and “retirement” stats show a reduction in the number of deaths in absolute terms (710 in 2019; 932 in 2018) but an increase in deaths on economic grounds (“Treatment Costs”) and on “Humane Grounds at Racecourse” combined as a percentage of all deaths. In 2018 44.7% of deaths took place on “Humane Grounds at Racecourse” or due to “Treatment Costs”. In 2019 this percentage was 46.5%. These deaths were a direct consequence of racing and avoidable.
Considering injury levels the statistics present an undefined “Total Dog Runs”, while the more relevant but undisclosed figure would be the total number of active racing greyhounds or dogs registered for racing. Although there was an approx 4% fall in “Dog Runs” the number of injuries did not reduce at all: 4,970 in 2019; 4,963 2018.
As for homing stats, thanks to the sterling efforts of dog rescue groups and charities, 4,716 greyhounds of the 6,460 redundant greyhounds were homed in 2019 (4,588 of 6,773 in 2018). We all know so many groups who are dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and homing of greyhounds. They have changed the lives of these dogs. The GBGB figures also show how many dogs are retained by their trainer/racing owner. Over the last 3 years an average of 12.8% of the dogs “retiring” from racing have been kept by their trainer/racing owner (2019: 783; 2018: 878; 2017: 1,037). This cumulative retention of greyhounds in addition to a trainer’s active racing dogs is unsustainable. Who follows up on the audit of the fate of these dogs once the statistical year has lapsed?
Another issue is the number of greyhounds put to sleep because they are designated as “Unsuitable for Homing” (83 in 2019 and 190 in 2018). There is no obvious uniform standard or dog behaviour professional advice articulated within this conclusion. These may be needless deaths.
There were 142 greyhounds destroyed under “PTS On Veterinary Advice (Non -Racecourse)”. The absence of a reason or diagnosis in these figures further demonstrates the need for greater transparency in the data. Were they on-track fatal injuries and the dogs were killed away from the track to keep the on-track death stats around the annual 200 mark?
Still much to be done to eliminate deaths and injuries. Some way to go on data transparency. Observers of these statistics would welcome a declaration of the total universe of racers, more granularity of the data and a full accompanying audit statement.