Greyhound racing standards fall well short of keeping dogs safe, say charities
Thousands of greyhounds are killed or injured on racetracks, while thousands more are kept in substandard trainers’ kennels with slim chance of a home, two animal welfare charities say.
The League Against Cruel Sports and greyhound campaign group Greyt Exploitations have analysed data released by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain on racing greyhound injuries and deaths both on and off the track for 2019.
Last year 4,970 dogs were injured as a result of racing, while 710 were destroyed or died.
Trudy Baker, coordinator of Greyt Exploitations, also says thousands of dogs remain in racing kennels after their retirement rather than being homed – figures not included in the GBGB's annual report.
She said: “The GBGB and its ‘welfare partners’ have failed to respond to an in-depth report on greyhound injuries which was presented to them over a year ago.
“The evidence is indisputable – thousands of greyhounds will always suffer injuries on the dangerously configured tracks and as a consequence hundreds of these gentle souls will continue to lose their lives every year at the hands of the cruel gambling industry.”
While this year no dogs have been put to sleep because homes couldn’t be found, a third group, the Greyhound Trust, which is responsible for homing retired racing greyhounds, estimates there are between 2,500 and 3,000 retired dogs in racing kennels that are not on waiting lists.
The Trust itself has 1,000 dogs on its waiting list.
The Greyhound Trust has had its annual grant of £1.4m from the GBGB recently withdrawn and replaced with a kennelling fee of 50p per day for every greyhound.
This amounted to a reduction from £108,000 to just £10,125 for the month of April – an income drop of 90.5 per cent.
Meanwhile the GBGB has reneged on its agreement with Defra to introduce and enforce welfare accreditation for trainers’ kennels, due to be in place by December 2017.
Trudy said: “The GBGB has relinquished its responsibilities and has no current system or funding in place to ensure the homing and welfare of retired greyhounds.”
The GBGB’s figures show that injury rates have increased compared to 2018, despite the number of races during the year falling. In total, 4,970 dogs were injured during racing in 2019, compared to 4,963 injuries in 2018. There were 410,607 dog runs in 2019, compared to 426,139 in 2018.
Deaths of racing animals have decreased from 932 to 701, or 12.1 per cent to 9.9 per cent respectively.
Causes of death are listed as treatment costs being too high, put to sleep on vet’s advice, designated unsuitable for rehoming, sudden death, on humane grounds at the racecourse, or because of other issues such as terminal illness or natural causes.
Nick Weston, head of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports said: “These figures have been described as a downward trajectory, but we’re not celebrating them. With injury rates increasing, and dogs still dying in their hundreds, not enough is being done to prevent the cruelty to animals by this vile ‘sport’.”
Nick added: “Thousands of dogs may not be put to sleep through a lack of new home, but will instead be kept in conditions that fall well short of the British Standard Institution’s kennel specification.
“If standards cannot be guaranteed to keep these dogs safe from harm, then the industry should be phased out for good.”
Notes to editors
Issued by the League Against Cruel Sports and Greyt Exploitations, the full set of greyhound injury and deaths data can be found here: http://greyhoundstar.co.uk/gbgb-press-release-injury-retirement-data/
The initial GBGB/DEFRA agreement stated GBGB should obtain UKAS accreditation by December 2017 http://greytexploitations.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/gbgb-agreement-2.11.15..pdf
Greyhound Trust homing figures: http://greyhoundstar.co.uk/greyhound-trust-respond-gbgb/
For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email firstname.lastname@example.org