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.
We were delighted to attend a very constructive greyhound advocacy conference (#greyglobe) organised by GREY2K USA Worldwide and the Irish Council Against Blood Sports. The event opened with the launch of the excellent and insightful report, “Rewarding Cruelty: Greyhound Racing in Ireland”, compiled by GREY2K USA Worldwide and the Irish Council Against Blood Sports.
Conference interventions revealed how greyhound rescuers battle with “a conveyor belt” of greyhounds saved from near fatal injuries and squalid conditions in Ireland, the UK and Australia. All of this has to be balanced with maintaining relationships with trainers and racing owners without jeopardising the greyhounds’ welfare help.
In the countries where this gambling industry exists, we all seem to be facing similar cruelty issues: overbreeding, fatalities, injuries as well as dismal kennel and transportation standards. While misconceptions about the impact of racing still exist, public opinion is changing rapidly to disgust and loathing. Some of the UK delegates recognised a common experience: that people we interact with in our outreach are surprised racing is still legal.
The most striking momentum for change came from Ireland and Scotland. The RTE Investigates programme in Ireland has literally rocked the nation. It showed numerous failings and among the most pertinent were the Government subsidy for greyhound breeding (since 2001 more than €250m has been paid out) and the fact that 6,000 greyhounds are culled annually in Ireland. The general public is up in arms. A RED C poll in September 2019 revealed that 66% of the Irish public agrees that the Government should cease the funding. The Irish Greyhound Board would not be viable without it.
We learned that the Irish Dáil is being asked to vote in favour of the €16.8m public funds for greyhound breeding in 2020 in a motion “without debate”. This totally contradicts prior parliamentary treatment of the annual subsidy. Plenty of TDs and advocates in the conference will challenge this move and demand a full debate. The allocation of Irish taxpayers’ money for legalised cruelty is all the more galling when contrasted with other initiatives in receipt of Government money: mental health – €2.2m; domestic violence – €20m; sex violence (Rape Crisis / helplines etc.) – €5m.
In the words of one of the speakers, Paul Murphy TD, this has provoked “widespread revulsion” and thankfully the Irish Greyhound Board and its Government supporters are “on the back foot”, they are “very vulnerable on the misuse of public funds”.
Scotland Against Greyhound Exploitation showcased a very professional campaign to outlaw racing in Scotland and they are meeting with quite some success! Their petition to ban greyhound racing in Scotland has been fast tracked to the ECCLR committee for consideration as part of the upcoming Animal Welfare Bill. The petition had one of the biggest public responses to a petition in Holyrood’s history! Their strategic approach was impressive. If they can achieve success in Scotland it will undoubtedly catalyse change in the rest of the UK.
The highest points of the day had to be the case study on ending racing in Florida (from which we all could extrapolate many lessons) and the award ceremony for the “Macau Airlift” team who methodically rescued more than 500 greyhounds from the Macau racetrack when it closed. There has been good follow-up from Australian Senator Mehreen Faruqi to bring about legislation to ban greyhound exports from Australia to prevent a repeat of Macau from happening in the future. Awards were presented to Albano Martins of ANIMA Macau, Stefania Traini of Pet Levrieri and Marion Fitzgibbon of Limerick Animal Welfare for their supreme dedication to greyhound advocacy and homing. Greyhound Compassion contributes funds to Marion’s Limerick shelter from time to time. Marion is a living legend for the greyhounds and she wholeheartedly deserves this life-time achievement award. We offer her many congratulations!
Thanks to all of our supporters who have helped with fund-raising efforts to make a difference for rescued greyhounds and galgos in 2019.
We are really pleased to be able to contribute to the kennel renovations at Greyhound Rescue in Boston, Lincolnshire – the greyhound rescue shelter we support in the UK. Greyhound Rescue is a true haven for the greyhounds Karen & Dawn rescue from racing. The greyhounds receive one to one personalised care, comfortable kennels, “cake” on Sundays and their annual Christmas dinner. All of the pensioners and greyhounds who prefer kennel life stay with Dawn and Karen who ensure their every need is met.
The kennels are getting a spruce up. Thanks to Greyhound Compassion’s fund-raising, we are able to help financially with the renovations. Our sales of donated goods, craft sales, the quiz night, street collections, the annual lunch party, the sponsored walk, the fun dog show, the spring sale, Christmas fair and proceeds from kind donations have made it possible for us to contribute to the cost of: new tiled flooring, loft boards, kennel doors, a washing machine, second hand kitchen units for the food preparation area and a new window for the kennel building. We are thrilled to be able to make the greyhounds’ accommodation even better and the cleaning and feeding much easier for Dawn and Karen.
The floor tiles have arrived and the loft boarding is nearly finished. The builders will complete the final stages in the coming weeks before the kitchenette and washer are installed.
During recent weeks the activities at Protectora y Santuario Scooby have continued to be as frenetic as ever. We support Scooby in its rescue of galgos from the Spanish countryside far and wide without any favour or selection – the Scooby team picks up galgos from near and far regardless of medical condition. They all come into the shelter for medical care and rehabilitation to prepare them for domestic homes in mainland Europe and America.
In recent weeks Scooby has had two homing transports to Italy, a one to Holland and two to America. This means about 80 – 90 galgos will be in domestic homes before the end of October. These are mammoth logistical undertakings to get the galgos to their destinations. At the same time a group of Slovenian vets followed by a group of English vets visited the shelter to volunteer in the onsite clinic. These visits are great and help the animals no end but also mean the team has to be well prepared to welcome and support the medics.
Two of the transports to America were mega super and carried off in September and October by “Daphne Legacy Tour” from Denver. After months of fund-raising by Daphne Legacy Tour as well as weeks of intricate preparations and getting to grips with the regulations ahead of each trip, Daphne Legacy Tour flew 38 Protectora y Santuario Scooby galgos to the USA. This means over the last two years Daphne Legacy Tour has transported over 100 galgos (some are in the photos), 102 to be precise, to new lives in the USA (marked on the attached map). One haul from Protectora y Santuario Scooby last year and two this year, all with early starts for the Protectora y Santuario Scooby drivers and stalwart fight chaperones to get the dogs to the airport in time for take-off to the Land of the Free.
A massive shout out to Daphne Legacy Tour for their momentous efforts to get these beautiful galgos to new homes and for the suitcases of donations they have delivered to Protectora y Santuario Scooby on each voyage. Much kudos also due to the Protectora y Santuario Scooby team who worked with Daphne Legacy Tour to make it happen.
As you may know we are currently running an appeal to replace the donated wooden outdoor shelters for the galgos at Protectora y Santuario Scooby. This is a much needed project and Protectora y Santuario Scooby has €11,000 in the fund (the target is €25k). However it has been overtaken by a much greater need – a puppy isolation unit. We have decided to redirect Greyhound Compassion funds to support this priority.
Over the last couple of months the problem has been particularly acute. Fourteen came in over 2 days in June and most were fighting Parvo. Giving all of the puppies veterinary treatment and protecting them from disease is an immense uphill struggle. Scooby has a puppy isolation unit but it is only big enough for one lactating mother and her litter. It could do with upgrading.
We have decided to support Scooby’s current emergency measures to build a better isolation unit which will cater for the volumes of puppies rescued by the shelter. We have decided to divert the money from the funds for the replacement outdoor shelters for this urgent need.
Some Spanish volunteers have been doing a great patch up job on the existing shelters or building new wooden ones as a stop-gap until there is enough money for the outdoor shelters. We think it’s best to re-direct the funds to the urgent puppy need now and for Scooby to use the temporary shelters in the meantime. We will have to re-launch our appeal for the shelters at a later date.
If so, send him/her to Protectora y Santuario Scooby….
For some unknown reason Protectora y Santuario Scooby can’t find a builder in Spain for love nor money (and for once we have the money to pay). It seems that they are all in full employment and cannot start Scooby’s projects until after Christmas (yes! After Christmas!).
Scooby has several building works to complete: the puppy isolation unit (12sqm and subdivided into 4 sections); the replacement of fences with brick walls around the dog enclosures; and other maintenance work. Scooby has enough building work to fill the next 8 – 12 weeks. Scooby can pay a fee and offer basic onsite accommodation.
If you know a builder who would like a few weeks’ work in the sun in Medina del Campo, Spain, for a very fulfilling purpose – please email the team. Thank you.
Greyhound racing in Ireland turned from a national tradition to a national disgrace in 60 minutes last week.
The RTE Investigates tv programme (caution: graphic images) revealed the dark side of greyhound racing in Ireland when it presented a report the Irish Greyhound Board had commissioned and kept secret since 2017 because it was considered commercially sensitive. The programme showed that 6,000 greyhounds are culled per annum. The reasons for the cull were broken down into: “those who failed to produce qualifying times” (2,673); “failure to produce desired entry level times” (1,989) and an “unacceptable decline in performance” (1,326).
Irish Greyhound Board is a semi-state body and receives an annual government subsidy to the tune of €16.8m. An Irish Examiner article sets the issue out in very clear terms: In Ireland “sick children don’t benefit from ring-fenced taxation. Neither do people with mental health challenges, nor elderly people, nor homeless people. Nobody does, in fact, except horses and greyhounds”.
The report behind the RTE programme revealed how greyhounds are sold to the UK at 50% of the cost of producing the greyhound puppies. This means the Irish taxpayer is subsidising the ‘product’ being sold to the UK at a loss. Thereby making the ‘cheap product’ affordable to the UK customers. Surely when the prices go up to remedy the Irish losses, the UK clients will feel the pinch.
The atrocities shown in the RTE programme brought Irish people out onto the streets to demonstrate outside local tracks. It catalysed a torrent of letters, tweets and emails complaining to Irish Government officials. The heart rending footage led to discussions in the Irish Parliament, a petition calling for government subsidies to be discontinued and moved Barry’s Tea, Treacy’s Hotel, FBD Insurance and Connolly’s RED MILLS (a leading manufacturer of animal feed products in Ireland) to withdraw from sponsorship agreements. Others may follow.
Although horrific, this has to be a major step in the demise of greyhound racing.
Join campaigners in demanding an end to the Irish Government’s massive grants to the greyhound industry – €16.8 million for 2019, bringing to around a quarter of a billion euros the amount handed over since 2001. This must be ended. Contact Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe now.
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar
Upper Merrion St, Dublin 2
Telephone: +353 (0)1-6194020
Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Tweet to: @LeoVaradkar
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Paschal Donohoe TD
Minister for Finance
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Phone: +353 (0)1 6045810
Leave a comment on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/PaschalDonohoe/
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The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) has published the 2018 end of life and injury figures for racing greyhounds. This is the second year for which data has been put in the public domain. Over the last two years 2,032 greyhounds have died in the hands of the industry (499 on the racetrack). Many greyhounds were killed for ‘economic reasons’, in 2018 175 were destroyed because of high treatment costs, and 144 were labelled as having ‘no viable option’ away from the racecourse.
The 2018 figures show how and why the greyhound died or was put down:
242 euthanised trackside on ‘humane grounds’
324 for whom treatment was deemed too expensive, there was ‘no viable option’ away from the racecourse or no home was found.
190 were killed due to being ‘unsuitable for homing’
72 died from ‘sudden death’
There were 4,963 injuries (out of 426,139 dog runs) in 2018 (4,837 injuries out of 419,385 dog runs in 2017. The graphs below display the Greyhound Board of Great Britain’s 2017 and 2018 data. Over the two years some of the category labels have changed: In the 2018 dataset the GBGB introduced numbers for dogs going to independent racing (“flapping”) and re-grouped some of the end of life headings, introducing “No Viable Option Away from Racecourse”.
The injuries and deaths suffered by greyhounds, who are companion animals and sentient beings, are egregious and have no place in our society. The published data fails to present the total number of greyhounds racing (widely estimated to be 14,000 at any one time) does not include the “saplings” who fail to make the grade, and omits the GBGB acknowledged “dog clog” considered to stand at 5,000 greyhounds.
We lost poor Magic to cancer in May. He was a prominent greyhound ambassador for rescued greyhounds and galgos and we were overwhelmed by the messages we received when he became ill.
Since losing him we’ve been asked what Greyhound Compassion can do to mark this very special hound. With the help of a Greyhound Compassion friend we have launched a “JustGiving” page in Magic’s honour.
Here you can donate directly to Greyhound Compassion or post your own fund-raising initiatives in aid of Greyhound Compassion. People have already suggested sponsored walks and fun runs. We are grateful for these ideas and hope that Magic’s memory will continue to help other greyhounds and galgos not yet in loving homes.