Trusting the greyhound racing industry to police itself would be naive, warn animal welfare campaigners

The greyhound racing industry cannot be trusted to police its own behaviour, so an independent watchdog with teeth is essential if the government is serious about stamping out neglect, cruel training practices and widespread injury insists the League Against Cruel Sports.

As the racing industry’s treatment of greyhounds comes under close scrutiny with a government-led review, animal welfare campaigners League Against Cruel Sports believe that Defra’s recommendations are woefully inadequate and will do little to protect the welfare of racing dogs.

Dr Toni Shephard, League Against Cruel Sports’ Head of Policy & Research said: “For too long, the tail has wagged the dog, with the government allowing the demands of the greyhound racing industry to take precedence over the animals’ welfare.

“While it is good that Defra recognises the widespread concern about how the industry treats its racing dogs, the recommendations in its review are naïve and wholly inadequate.

“Based on the greyhound racing industry’s dismal record in policing itself over the past 5 years and contrary to Defra’s position, we strongly believe that there is indeed a robust and compelling case for strengthened and independently enforced legislation.”

The League believes that the inherent secrecy of the greyhound industry, its lack of accountability and inadequate legislation has allowed cruelty to flourish unchecked

Dr Shephard added: ““It’s clear that the greyhound is only useful to its trainer as long as it can turn a profit. Isolated and neglected, these racing dogs are subjected to malnutrition, dangerous training practices and injury, often leading to an early death.

“We strongly support the option to extend regulations to trainers’ kennels, but at the same time we need an effective and independent regulatory body which will ensure complete transparency, with publicly accessible injury records and retirement/euthanasia data a priority.

The League’s research has uncovered a catalogue of cruelty to greyhounds and malpractice, including:

Dogs are often housed alone in a small kennel with limited opportunity for exercise, no enrichment, outdoor access or contact with other dogs and clear signs of boredom and stress are apparent
A commonplace cruel training practice includes greyhounds being tied to a moving treadmill and forcibly exercised. If the dog stops running, it can choke to death.
Misuse of microchips including taking the chip out and swapping it to another dog, rendering the tracking of the greyhound’s fate impossible
A high levels of track injuries, which go unreported because there is no requirement for the industry to publish injury statistics
Trainers discarding greyhounds when they outlive their usefulness. Some of these unwanted dogs are sold to foreign tracks or euthanised, and a few are rehomed

The League Against Cruel Sports is calling on the government to implement the following recommendations:

An independent greyhound welfare regulatory body: to oversee all greyhound racing: The regulations must include trainers’ kennels
Welfare and regulatory transparency: a law for the industry to disclose information on greyhound welfare, both nationally and at track level.
Greyhound passports: thousands of dogs currently just disappear without trace. Mandatory microchipping will not be sufficient to track every dog from birth to death.
Rehoming requirements: Healthy greyhounds should never be euthanised
Breeding controls: Overbreeding and trade in greyhounds is rife, and a licensing regime is overdue

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