Every year thousands of Greyhounds disappear.
This includes dogs whose racing days are over, as well as those that are bred for the sport but never make it to the track.
Government regulations to protect the welfare of racing Greyhounds are due to come into force in April 2010. Whilst Dogs Trust is pleased that there has finally been some movement on this issue, we are very disappointed with the scope of their proposals. Although there are some sensible suggestions, including microchipping, vet attendance at tracks and the collection of injury data, we feel the proposals do not go nearly far enough.
After a prolonged period of campaigning by Dogs Trust and other welfare groups the Government has finally laid before Parliament its regulations on the welfare of racing Greyhounds. These regulations have been made under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The official consultation closed on the 22nd July. You can view the full Dogs Trust response on the Consultation page.
The Government is proposing the introduction of regulations that guarantee minimum welfare standards for Greyhounds whilst they are at the racing track through a licensing scheme. Any track affiliated with the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) will be exempt from the licensing requirement. Essentially the Government is advocating the continued self regulation of the industry.
Dogs Trust is pleased to see that the proposals will require all Greyhound racing tracks to have a veterinarian present for race meetings, provide an adequate number of kennels, to keep records of both dogs that race on the tracks and any injuries sustained. However, the measures focus on the continued self regulation of the industry, and only on welfare whilst the Greyhounds are at the track, where they spend a mere 10% of their time.
We consider that the racing industry must take responsibility for all Greyhounds bred for and retired from racing, and we believe that it is the Government who must ensure that the industry puts this responsibility at the heart of its operation. There is no reason why a successful Greyhound racing industry cannot prioritise animal welfare, and the Government has an obligation to ensure that the industry is regulated in such a way that both prioritises the welfare of the animals involved and reassures the general public as to its efficacy.
Having carefully considered the proposed measures Dogs Trust believes the proposals fall short of what is required, and we would have liked to see consideration given to the following -
. The introduction of statutory regulation across all tracks
. The inspection of breeders' and trainers' kennels by an authorised, independent inspector.
. An industry commitment to developing a system that matches the number of dogs entering racing with the numbers that can be rehomed
. The collection of injury statistics in a prescribed format, and the subsequent use of data to improve standards.
. Proposals for a central database to ensure that all Greyhounds can be traced from cradle to grave
Dogs Trust does not want to see the total abandonment of the regulations, but we want to ensure that this is a 'first step', and to see a commitment from all future Governments to building upon these proposals and developing stronger regulations to protect Greyhounds from 'cradle to grave'.
Greyhounds are covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. However, Dogs Trust considers that the very specific risks faced by these dogs requires clear and unambiguous measures to ensure their safety. The Animal Welfare Act offers protection, in so much as it is an offence to fail to provide for the welfare needs of an animal. However there is obviously more that could be done to ensure the welfare of Greyhounds before they get to, when they are away from, and after they retire from, the track. At the very least there must be measures in place to identify potential problems before the welfare of the dogs is adversely affected.
Dogs Trust rehomes many retired Greyhounds every year and we are only too aware of the strength of public feeling on this issue. We are encouraging MPs to voice their concerns during the committee and debate stages of the legislative process. We also want to see UK wide measures to protect Greyhounds and will be lobbying the Scottish and Welsh Governments to take action.