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Worrying Stats Published On Racing Greyhounds

Almost 5,000 racing greyhounds sustained injuries during 2017 and almost 1,000 had to be put down as they were either too badly injured or could not be rehomed.

That’s according to disconcerting figures published by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB). The details were only released following unprecedented campaigning by animal welfare protestors. The Board admitted some 257 greyhounds had to be put down at the trackside, equating to around 12 dogs per track across the UK.

An additional 333 greyhounds were put down as their injuries were viewed as too expensive to treat or due to poor prognosis. Some 348 of the 900-plus greyhounds destroyed were unable to be rehomed, which is hugely disappointing when you consider that the shelf-life of a greyhound is from the age of 16 months until they are just three-and-a-half-years old.

The GBGB has attempted to defend these figures by stating that the injury rate of UK greyhound racing is 1.15% - the lowest independently verified injury rate in the world. In contrast to UK horse racing, which had a fatality rate of 0.18% in 2017, UK greyhound racing recorded a fatality rate of just 0.06%.

As a consequence of these new figures, MPs have led the calls for bookmakers that are involved in weekly greyhound racing to pay a small compulsory levy towards the development of animal welfare, covering racehorses as well as greyhounds.

Neil Parish, chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee believes “bookmakers profiting from greyhound racing have a responsibility to support greyhound welfare” in particular. Within a recent letter to Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch, Mr Parish has mooted a “statutory levy of 1 per cent [which would] ensure that the welfare of greyhounds is adequately funded in the future”.

Encouragingly, the GBGB recently launched a new commitment to place animal welfare “at the heart” of greyhound racing. Plans have been unveiled to channel a minimum of 75% of all funding received from the bookmaker industry into animal welfare. It’s hoped that greater funds for greyhound welfare would encourage trainers and owners to stump up the cash to treat their injured dogs.

Mark Bird, chief executive, GBGB, admits that although the “overwhelming majority of greyhounds are successfully rehomed” when they finish racing, there were hundreds that still could not be rehomed last year. Mr Bird insisted it was the Board’s “mission” to “reduce this number to zero”.

“Greyhounds make calm, gentle and loveable pets that are excellent with children,” added Bird.

We would certainly agree that greyhounds do make wonderful pets for all kinds of individuals and families. They are exceptionally low-maintenance animals and have a placid, laid-back personality. Although they may be classed as a ‘large’ dog, greyhounds are easy to live with and control. Furthermore, their docile nature means they can integrate easily into a household with other small pets such as cats and rabbits.

Generally, health problems with greyhounds are minimal, even in ex-racing greyhounds. Hip dysplasia and other genetic defects are not uncommon. Nevertheless, the renewed commitment to welfare funding should mean owners can nip these issues in the bud for greyhounds at a young age and allow them to live happily and healthily for up to 15 years.

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