Blue Cross calls for an end to greyhound racing
In September 2022, Blue Cross, Dogs Trust and RSPCA called for a phased end to greyhound racing in the UK. Despite this change in policy, we have been very clear about our commitment to safeguarding greyhound welfare and helping ensure every dog involved in the industry has a good life. We were pleased with the overall agreement for us to remain part of the Greyhound Forum, due to our ongoing commitment to greyhound welfare. However, we have since been informed that:
- we will be restricted from taking part in some forum discussions going forward
- we have been removed from a list of approved rehoming centres eligible for the Greyhound Retirement Scheme
As a result of these actions, and what we see as actions that further compromise the welfare of racing greyhounds, we have decided to step down from the forum with immediate effect.
Blue Cross is calling for greyhound racing to come to an end to put a stop to the unnecessary and completely preventable deaths of hundreds of dogs every year.
We, together with Dogs Trust and the RSPCA, believe there are significant welfare issues for racing greyhounds which have not been, and cannot be resolved.
Chris Burghes, Chief Executive of Blue Cross said: “The consequences for dogs involved in greyhound racing are so serious, and progress in improving welfare standards so slow, despite sustained and repeated attempts by the animal welfare sector to instigate change. We need an end to this ‘sport’.
“With injuries and death rife on and off the track, there can be no justification given for exploiting these animals and we appeal for government to take urgent action. We are committed to working with and advising the industry and government as to the fastest, most efficient way to bring greyhound racing to an end, whilst giving the highest priority to the dogs and their welfare during this time.”
The three charities have, as part of the Greyhound Forum, worked with the greyhound racing industry for many years to try to improve conditions for the dogs involved in the sport. This has led to some improvements, greyhound racing is inherently dangerous for the dogs involved.
Running at speed around oval tracks causes significant injury to many dogs, and in some cases the injuries are so severe that dogs have to be put to sleep. Data from the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) – the self-regulating organisation that governs licensed greyhound racing in Great Britain – shows that over 2,000 greyhounds died, and nearly 18,000 injuries were recorded from greyhound racing between 2018 and 2021*, with additional dogs injured on independent tracks.
Comprehensive internal reviews conducted by Blue Cross, Dogs Trust and the RSPCA highlighted serious concerns at every stage of a racing greyhound’s life 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. Our reviews also highlighted concerns around the general health of the dogs including the number and severity of injuries sustained during racing.
There are also serious issues around the racing of greyhounds in extreme weather and the number of puppies that are unaccounted for between birth and racing registrations, so often referred to by the sector as the "wastage".
Our charities’ reviews also found there to be disjointed and ineffective regulation within the sector, a lack of transparency regarding industry practices, and additional concerns around the enforcement of regulatory standards.
We, together with Dogs Trust and the RSPCA, also believe that the absence of a sustainable and consistent source of income for the industry has grossly impacted any meaningful change for the dogs involved. However, even if the considerable finances needed to continue were made available, a complete overhaul of the sport is necessary to ensure it is compatible with good welfare.
We want to see an end to greyhound racing announced as soon as possible, and expect the phase out to be feasible within five years to allow the racing industry and animal welfare organisations to carefully plan and coordinate the care of the many dogs affected. In 2021 there were in excess of 18,000 licensed greyhounds eligible to race in GBGB races, with additional greyhounds racing on the independent tracks. In some parts of the UK, such as in Wales where there is just one track, it is expected that the phase-out period needed will be significantly shorter.
You can show your support for a phased end to greyhound racing across social media by using #cutthechase.
* Data taken from GBGB’s Injury and Retirement Data