Animal welfare organisations call for improvements to Greyhound welfare

Animal welfare organisations attended an event in Westminster on Tuesday 17 January to discuss with Members of Parliament the needs of racing Greyhounds and what improvements are needed to safeguard their wellbeing.

19 MPs attended the drop-in sessions, hosted by Angela Smith MP together with the welfare members of the Greyhound Forum. The Forum's nine welfare organisations are calling for the following actions:

  • Publish essential welfare data relating to injury, euthanasia and rehoming numbers as soon as possible
  • Extend the 2010 Regulations to cover trainers’ kennels.
  • Apply greater pressure to bookmakers to ensure they invest a fair reflection of their profits into welfare.

Welfare organisations believe that approximately 3,500 Greyhounds are unaccounted for every year in the UK, but as statistics are not currently published by the industry the true scale of the problem is difficult to assess. Angela Smith MP, a strong voice for animal welfare issues in Parliament and a member of the EFRA Committee, echoed the welfare members’ concerns, including those detailed in the Committee’s June 2016 report on Greyhound welfare where the Committee raised questions about the self-regulation of the industry.

Angela Smith MP explains, "As a member of the EFRA Committee I encourage MPs to take heed of the Committee’s recommendations on Greyhound welfare; these changes must be made to protect the Greyhounds involved. The EFRA Committee report recommends that the 2010 Regulations should be extended to cover trainers’ kennels yet this was not included as a recommendation in the Government’s Post Implementation Review. The existing 2010 Regulations do not go far enough to address welfare concerns. Along with the welfare members of the Greyhound Forum I am calling on MPs to acknowledge that more must be done to safeguard Greyhound welfare."

Clarissa Baldwin, Chair of the Greyhound Forum explains, "We are delighted to see the support of so many MPs. It goes to show that Greyhound welfare is high on the agenda for MPs and their constituents. As so many of us consider ourselves a nation of animal lovers it’s outrageous that so little is being done by our Government to ensure that welfare in the industry is prioritised. The welfare members of the Forum are calling for regulations to be amended to require the publication of essential welfare data relating to injury, euthanasia and rehoming.

"The Government will rely on a non-regulatory agreement with the Greyhound Board of Great Britain to publish statistics from 2018. We also see no justification for the data not to be published until 2018. We hope MPs will work with us to put pressure on the Government to treat the grave issue of Greyhound welfare with the urgency and severity it deserves."

Angela Smith MP discusses Greyhound welfare with MPs. Credit: Dogs Trust

Battersea reported that in 2016, they took in 95 unwanted, ex-racing Greyhounds. Battersea's Director of Operations, Peter Laurie, said, "The current Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations 2010 have delivered some important improvements. However, we believe there's much more to do. This is why we were so disappointed when the Government’s review last year did not propose additional requirements to address remaining areas of concern.

"We're asking for the 2010 Regulations to be amended to make it mandatory for the industry to publish welfare data relating to injury, euthanasia and rehoming or retirement numbers. These Regulations should also cover trainers' kennels, which aren't properly monitored, and yet are where Greyhounds spend 95% of their time.

"Battersea works closely with other Greyhound welfare charities, and is an active member of the Greyhound Forum. As a result, we’re pleased to take in many ex-racers, who are lovely dogs and make wonderful pets in the right environment. As with all our residents, we’re committed to ensuring they go to the right homes with responsible new owners."