Your Pets Daily - default image logo

Leading UK charities renew call for “inherently dangerous” greyhound racing to come to an end in the UK

Tom Stone
Authored by Tom Stone
Posted: Saturday, June 29, 2024 - 08:00

Leading animal welfare organisations have renewed their calls for greyhound racing to come to an end following the release of new data that shows 359 dogs involved in racing died or were put to sleep last year – a 47% increase on the previous year.

The Cut the Chase Coalition, which consists of Dogs Trust, Blue Cross, RSPCA, Greyhound Rescue Wales and Hope Rescue, wants to see greyhound racing come to an end across the UK to stop to the unnecessary and completely preventable deaths of hundreds of dogs every year.

These leading voices in animal welfare believe greyhound racing is inherently dangerous for the dogs involved, and that running at speed around oval tracks causes significant injury to many dogs. In some cases, the injuries are so severe that it is necessary to euthanise the dog.

Stats released on Wednesday by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB), the organisation responsible for licencing greyhound tracks in the UK, show that last year 359 racing greyhounds died or were put to sleep, and there were 4,238 recorded injuries. This is a significant increase of 47% when compared to the 244 dogs that died or were put to sleep the previous year.

Since 2018, more than 2,700 greyhounds have died or were put to sleep following their participation in greyhound racing.

Further to the deaths and injuries at greyhound racing tracks, there are concerns about the welfare of racing greyhounds at every stage of their lives, including issues around inadequate welfare standards in kennelling and transporting the dogs. Some of the dogs used in racing are kept in poor, barren conditions, with little, if any, enrichment and fed a poor diet, and there are concerns around the general health of the dogs involved in racing.

This year's GBGB data reveals a significant increase in the number of greyhounds that remained with their owner or trainer following retirement. The Cut the Chase Coalition is concerned that this may result in dogs being kennelled in unsuitable conditions for the rest of their non-racing lives.

There are also significant concerns associated with the running of the greyhound racing industry, including disjointed and ineffective oversight, a lack of transparency regarding industry practices, and concerns around the enforcement of regulatory standards.

Dogs Trust, RSPCA, Blue Cross, Hope Rescue and Greyhound Rescue Wales have all previously worked with the greyhound racing industry to try to improve conditions for the dogs involved in the sport. While this led to some improvements, there remain significant welfare issues for racing greyhounds which have not been resolved and the Cut the Case Coalition do not believe can be resolved.  

Support for bringing greyhound racing to an end is building across the UK. The Welsh Government has consulted on ending the industry in Wales, and on Wednesday, the Scottish Parliament published the final proposal of Prohibition of Greyhound Racing (Scotland) Bill, which if adopted, will make it an offence to permit the racing of greyhounds at tracks in Scotland. A petition by Blue Cross has received over 50,000 signatures.

In response to the publication of this new data, Owen Sharp, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust, says:

"It is unacceptable that over 350 dogs have died or been put to sleep in the past year, all in the name of entertainment. This new data supports what experts in dog welfare have been saying for some time: greyhound racing is inherently dangerous for the dogs involved.

"The significant rise in deaths over the last year demonstrates that the multiple issues affecting the welfare of racing greyhounds cannot be resolved quickly or extensively enough to make a significant impact. Therefore, the only acceptable solution to prevent future unnecessary deaths and injuries is to put an end to greyhound racing in the UK."

Dr Samantha Gaines, Head of Companion Animals at the RSPCA, said:

"The statistics from GBGB are a wake-up call. We are particularly concerned about the rise in euthanasia of greyhounds unsuitable for homing. The number of dogs retained by owners and trainers has also doubled, which shows there is a growing rehoming crisis in the greyhound industry.

"The number of greyhounds dying or injured because of racing is not acceptable, especially as greyhound racing is a leisure activity which 91% of the UK population do not follow or participate in. The only way to protect greyhound welfare is to phase out greyhound racing across the UK."

Tim Doyle, Chief Executive of Greyhound Rescue Wales says:

"These most recent statistics confirm what we know to be the case; regardless of the welfare measures in place, greyhound racing still places innocent dogs at risk of injury and death. This is an industry under more scrutiny than ever when it comes to welfare, and yet is still unable to prevent these horrific levels of suffering.

"An end to greyhound racing is now long overdue. We must remember that any delay will only result in more injuries and more deaths in the meantime."

Share this