Does the closure of London’s last remaining greyhound track this weekend signal that the cruel and outdated racing industry is finally on its last legs?

Whilst Wimbledon stadium desperately attempts to flog tickets and souvenir programmes to Saturday’s final ‘night at the dogs’ before turning into AFC Wimbledon’s new football ground, can their efforts be seen as being somewhat in vain? Ticket sales to greyhound racing have been dwindling for years, with many tracks across the UK already having been shut down. 

Over time, more and more people have started to ask questions about the dogs at the centre of this outdated sport. Sparked by national media reports of cruelty and exposés of unwanted dogs being killed and dumped in mass graves, the murky answers provided by the self regulated industry are no longer being accepted.

Taken at face value greyhound racing appears to have all the components for a fun night out,  the thrill of seeing dogs racing at top speed, the excitement of a  quick flutter, and the opportunity to have a drink and grab a bite to eat with a few mates.

The reality of what greyhound racing actually involves is stark in comparison.

Dogs are kept in small, barren kennels with no social contact for 95% of the time. They sustain painful injuries from racing and training, drug abuse, illness and neglect. Shockingly, thousands of surplus dogs die or disappear every year.

A League report, The State of greyhound racing in Great Britain: a mandate for change, produced in conjunction with GREY2K USA Worldwide in 2014, shows that the life of a racing greyhound was still filled with abuse, neglect and early death, including:

  • Neglect, suffering from flea and worm infestations, untreated injuries, malnutrition and dental problems.
  • Poorly maintained tracks and racing frequency cause painful, and often lethal, injuries such as broken backs and shattered limbs. Shockingly, the industry is allowed to keep injury records secret.
  • At least 10,000 dogs are deemed surplus to requirements every year. 8,000 are retired racers, the rest are young dogs that didn't make the grade.
  • British charities re-home many surplus dogs, but thousands are unaccounted for each year. Some are abandoned, some killed crudely, others sold for dissection.

EFRA’s 2016 report noted the greyhound racing industry’s reluctance to self-regulate adequately, but as this  expert report highlighting  neglect, cruel training and widespread injury was effectively ignored by the government, dogs continue to suffer at the hands of the greyhound racing industry.

Over the years we have been calling for greater transparency through an end to industry self-regulation, mandatory publication of injury records and the creation of a central database tracking dogs from birth, to retirement, to death.

However with these calls still not being actioned, far too many greyhounds are suffering unnecessarily which has led us to call for the industry to be phased out, aiming for greyhound racing to be eventually banned for good. The closure of Wimbledon greyhound stadium is a step in the right direction.