Animal charity Blue Cross says they are "encouraged" by the cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee report, which is recommending more stringent regulations to protect racing Greyhounds.
"The animal welfare standards expected by the public today are higher than at any time in the past," the report reads. "At the heart of this report are the overlapping but sometimes conflicting perspectives of two groups. The industry supports high welfare and integrity standards during a dog's racing career, but principally sees greyhounds as commercial betting assets. Welfare groups, on the other hand, prioritise animal well-being and pay less or little attention to the economic pressures on trainers, promoters, and other actors in the industry."
Steve Goody, Deputy Chief Executive at Blue Cross, says, “Blue Cross has been calling for tougher regulations to protect the welfare of racing greyhounds for over 10 years and EFRA’s report is a positive step in the right direction. The EFRA report recommendations if adopted by Government will make a real difference for racing Greyhounds."
At the moment, there are about 15,000 active racing Greyhounds in the UK. The sport has been taking place in the UK since the 1920s, but its popularity has been steadily declining in the recent decades. The industry's economic situation has been deteriorating as a consequence.
"Although declining revenue has to support increased welfare standards this in no way reduces the sport’s responsibility for the welfare of its dogs," the report goes on. "The Greyhound industry and bookmaking industry are interdependent and must successfully balance their commercial and welfare responsibilities to legitimise continued self-regulation of the sport."
The report touches several aspects of greyhound welfare -from injuries on track to kenneling standards, all the way through rehoming once their racing career reaches its end.
Neil Parish MP, Chair, says, "All racing Greyhounds should enjoy high welfare standards both during their racing career and retirement. Bookmakers who profit from Greyhound racing should contribute to welfare standards regardless of whether the profits are from high-street stores, online or overseas betting. The welfare of racing Greyhounds shouldn’t be at the whim of bookmakers who can simply choose to contribute or not. The Government should consider introducing a statutory levy or an alternative betting rights model to protect animal welfare."
The issue of transparency and traceability was also brought up. Jim Fitzpatrick MP says, "We simply do not know what is happening to all greyhounds after they finish racing. If the destruction of healthy dogs is happening on a large scale it is clear that the industry should bear a greater financial responsibility for funding rehomed Greyhounds. We want to see that all efforts are being made to rehome these animals at the end of their racing lives."
“As a charity that finds new homes for pets, we are particularly encouraged to see that EFRA has recommended that wherever possible retired dogs should be found homes at the end of their careers," Steve says. “We just hope that Government and the industry take the recommendations on board to ensure that the welfare of racing Greyhounds is better protected.”
Image by Blue Cross.