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Report: The State of Greyhound Racing in Great Britain

The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) has published a joint report with GREY2KUSAWorldwide called The state of greyhound racing in Great Britain: A mandate for change.

The state of greyhound racing in Great Britain

In response to the Seaham killing field of 2006, the government published the Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations in 2010 as statutory regulations under the Animal Welfare Act (2006).

They are due to be reviewed this year (2015) and this latest report could not have come along at a better time. Greyhound rescue organisations have long concurred that these regulations are limited in scope and that self-regulation has failed.

The LACS report gave credence to this view, revealing the following:

  • Racing dogs spend 95% of their time in small, barren kennels with little social contact. Those that are housed in pairs are kept constantly muzzled which is highly distressing for them.
  • Many suffer with fleas, worms, untreated injuries, malnutrition and dental problems. Industry sanctions against those who treat dogs in this manner are feeble and ineffectual.
  • Poorly maintained tracks and racing frequency cause painful, and often lethal, injuries such as broken backs and shattered limbs. The industry is allowed to keep injury records secret.
  • At least 10,000 dogs are thought to be surplus to requirements every year. Eight thousand are retired racers, the rest are young dogs that didn’t make the grade.
  • British charities rehome many surplus dogs, but many are unaccounted for each year. Some are abandoned, some killed.

The Launch of the Greyhound Manifesto

Greyhound Compassion attended the launch of the LACS report and the Greyhound Manifesto at the House of Commons in October 2014. In his speech to the gathered MPs, Joe Duckworth, LACS CEO, referred to the “breach of trust” towards the greyhounds, the public and MPs.

Mr Duckworth rightly pointed out that the greyhound racing industry made promises to Parliament in return for the self-regulation granted in 2010. LACS is calling for fundamental change to greyhound racing industry practice, enforced through legislation, including:

• The five year review of the Statutory Instrument should be open to the public with the power of Parliament to direct organisations to disclose information. A Select Committee review of the effectiveness of the current governance arrangements could call witnesses from greyhound racing and animal welfare organisations.

• An independent welfare regulatory body that oversees all greyhound racing (both licenced and independent) and includes representatives from animal welfare organisations.
• Greyhound racing should be required by law to disclose information on greyhound welfare, at national and track level, to the public and an independent regulator on a quarterly basis. It should as a minimum include breeding, import/export of dogs, transport, kennelling, racing, injuries, retirement, rehoming and euthanasia. There should be full public disclosure of all regulatory and enforcement activity within the industry.

  • The use of testosterone to suppress oestrus, and anabolic steroids, should be prohibited.
  • A moratorium of new tracks opening, or old tracks reopening, so the decline of the industry can be managed in such a way that greyhound welfare is not compromised.
  • A system that allows the tracking of every dog from birth so that the enigma of the thousands of missing dogs can be ended.
  • A statutory requirement for tracks, trainers and owners to rehome all greyhounds bred for racing.
  • The introduction of a licensing regime for British breeders together with joint initiatives between DEFRA and the devolved nations of the UK and Irish government to tackle issues of overbreeding and the trade in greyhounds.

The event at the House of Commons was really quite something. Annette Crosbie OBE was present and she lamented the state of racing and extolled the virtues of rescued greyhounds as pets.

After suffering the blow of the negligible outcome of the DEFRA consultation about regulation of the industry in 2010, it was great to see the debate being re-opened in a high profile way to force the industry to become transparent. The true extent of welfare risks associated with greyhound racing remains hidden whilst self-regulation and a lack of transparency are allowed to prevail.

Watch the LACS’ film:

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