In an ideal world, nothing would be wrong with greyhound racing, but behind the scenes of this £1.7 billion pound industry, it is far from ideal.
Most people would think that the dogs enjoy themselves running and will be re-homed at the end of their careers, but sadly it is not as simple as that.
Because profit drives business, the dogs are generally seen as animal business commodities running for their lives, and the way they are treated would appal the animal-loving British public.
• The greyhound racing industry produces, at a minimum, a ‘surplus’ of 13,500 dogs in England and Wales every year. Of these at least 4,000 dogs go missing every year, invariably killed, some by vets, others dispatched with a bullet to the head or dropped into a flooded quarry with a brick around the neck. Horrific cruelty cases have been reported.
• Part of the surplus is 2,500 UK bred young dogs who fail to make the grade as racers. The fate of only 20% of these animals is recorded. The other ‘disappeared’ 80% effectively vanish. And only 25% of racing dogs are UK bred - what happens to the majority bred abroad is even more worrying.
• The rest of the surplus is the 11,000 greyhounds that are retired from racing every year. Most are untraceable. Only 3,500 per year are known to be rehomed by greyhound welfare groups. It is not uncommon for unwanted dogs to be destroyed or abandoned with their ears cut off to prevent breeder and owner identification from their ear tattoos.
• During their ‘career’, welfare provision is insufficient. New regulations introduced by the government in 2010 will do little to improve the lives of greyhounds. By passing these regulation the government ignored the recommendations of hundreds of animal welfare charities and concerned individuals.
• Dogs have very short careers, sometimes less than a year, due to the repetitive stress injuries caused by racing on small, tight cornered tracks. They do not just enjoy a happy life of racing as most people think. They are kept in kennels, lack the social contact all dogs need and are pushed to their physical limits, soon to be unwanted and facing an uncertain future.
• Less than a penny of every pound wagered on greyhounds is spent on welfare and retirement provision. This is far too little to provide for all the dogs and their needs.