Is Greyhound Racing Cruel
Is Greyhound Racing Cruel?
Failures in Greyhound Racing
A. Failure to employ an independent governing body
The Greyhound Board of Great Britain is often challenged about a lack of transparency and failure to enforce/strengthen their regulations. During December 2016 the Greyhound Board of Great Britain offices in New Bridge Street, London were raided by the City of London Police, this was due to allegations of fraud and bribery. The investigation has ceased but nobody seems to be able to tell us any further detail.
B. Injury and death data is not independently audited.
C. Lack of transparency with record-keeping of track incidents. i.e Injured dogs may be euthanised at an independent vet practice, which could prevent the figures for euthanasia being logged on track records.
D. UKAS is the complaints body that covers any concerns at GBGB licensed greyhound tracks, but there is no complaints body for concerns that are recorded outside of the greyhound race track, other than the industry's own regulators, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, who have a conflict of interest.
E. Introducing young children to a gambling and often a ‘social drug’ using environment where they may witness animals being injured. The impact of gambling on families and society are also a concern.
The below list states all the greyhound welfare issues that exist today due to greyhound racing.
An average of 16,000 greyhounds are bred each year in Ireland, primarily to supply the British greyhound racing industry with enough dogs for live-streaming purposes. 6,250 on average exported to Great Britain each year, and 6000 destroyed in Ireland, with an additional average of 1,000 destroyed in Great Britain each year.
1. Intentional over-breeding of greyhounds leads to hoarding of dogs, euthanasia, and rescue centres struggling to cope both financially and to re-home the dogs
2. Lack of traceability of dogs when no longer registered to race, or those who don't make the grade.
3. There is no legislation to prevent a greyhound being killed solely on economic grounds
4. The Captive bolt gun - It is fully legal for any untrained and unlicensed person to attempt to destroy a greyhound by use of the captive bolt gun, when the dog is no longer commercially viable. The Captive bolt gun has a massive capacity for misuse, it can cause extreme and prolonged agony for a dog, as it may NOT always render them dead. In 2010 the Royal College of Veterinary surgeons announced that the use of captive bolt guns on dogs was inappropriate.
5. There is no known legislation to prevent a greyhound trainer/owner killing their own dog, rather than euthanasia by a qualified vet
6. Poor construction of greyhound tracks, leading to an increased risk of fatalities, i.e poor surfaces, lack of maintenance.
7. No protection of greyhounds from cradle to grave leaving them open to serious neglect and abuse while registered to race and after they finish racing.
8. Over breeding of Greyhounds - Due to the over-breeding of greyhounds, surplus greyhounds no longer used to race are often found living in squalor in sheds on allotments, in condemned buildings within desolate areas and also hoarded on greyhound trainer premises with almost no human contact (Apart from feeding times)
On visits to some premises, we have found dogs exposed to dangerous surroundings, including barbed wire, toxic waste, and no light. On occasion, we have been told by RSPCA that these conditions are acceptable under the AWA 2006
We have found that most hoarded Greyhounds are often deprived of the very basics. No clean water - No clean living areas - Inadequate diet - No proper ventilation - No Light - No stimulation
9. BAGS races (Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service) - BAGS Greyhound trainers are under constant pressure to provide a steady flow of dogs for racing, otherwise they could jeopardise their BAGS contract. This means, if one of their dogs has minor injuries, it may be raced repeatedly until he/she eventually goes lame, rather than opting to rest or re home the dog. Greyhound trainers/owners will sometimes wait until their dog goes lame, before replacing them with another, as this is more cost effective for them, especially with the price of dogs rising.
10. Exports of greyhounds for commercial purposes to countries that have little or no up to date animal welfare laws, including Pakistan and China.
11. Breach of the Welfare of Animals During Transport Order (WATO) - We have witnessed multiple greyhounds being transported in vehicles that breach this order, i.e Greyhounds inside unsecured shoddy crates stacked above one another - No ventilation - No light - No air conditioning. Long journey times without stops to allow dogs to toilet.
12. Inadequate vet checks prior a race (Insufficient amount of time to properly examine a dog)
Due to the very brief vet check of each dog prior a race, (approximately 30seconds at some tracks), it is impossible to pick up on injuries that are not immediately obvious.
13. Greyhounds used for racing often land up abandoned in emaciated states, this is sadly increasing - Periodontal and periodontal disease is quite common in greyhounds, and can lead to disease of the internal organs if not treated, this can be caused by poor diet. Greyhounds are often found abandoned, some are found in emaciated conditions. It is also not unusual for dogs to have flea, mite and/or worm infestations and untreated or inappropriately treated injuries when taken into rescue.
14. Greyhounds are often found abandoned - Many Greyhounds end up in stray pounds. Greyhounds bred for racing are tattooed and Microchipped. Tattoos are found in the Right ear of an English Greyhound and in both ears of an Irish greyhound. These tattoos are intended to identify the original greyhound owner to prevent abandonment of dogs. Unfortunately, in cases of abandonment/ abuse trainers/owners can claim that they passed the dog onto a new owner, relieving them of any responsibility. In some cases, dogs ears have been burnt, or cut off to prevent the tattooes being identified. Microchips are very often not adequately registered to the responsible owners deeming them useless.
When the GBGB is asked for ownership details of abused/abandoned dogs via microchip details provided to them, they are within their rights to quote the data protection act preventing us from obtaining any ownership details.
We believe the funds that are spent on Greyhound Welfare are minimal and should prioritise over lavish carpets and new bars, that are found in some greyhound stadiums.
What could be done to improve greyhound welfare standards at the greyhound tracks
a) The welfare of the dogs could be partially improved if the ability to gamble on them was removed. This would dramatically reduce the over breeding of greyhounds and alleviate some pressure from the greyhound rescue organisations,( at present it is impossible to re home the vast amount of dogs bred by the racing industry each year)
But, unfortunately, this would be an unrealistic request to make as greyhound racing is financially dependent on the gambling establishments, due to the live streaming of Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service. Greyhound racing is live-streamed throughout many countries across the world, for gambling purposes and depends on a high flow of dogs for racing. Each dog that enters a BAGS race brings income from the gambling industry, regardless of whether they win a race or not.
b) Straight racing would be an option to reduce injuries and fatalities. Greyhound tracks are of a highly dangerous configuration. Tracks are oval and have bends that are lethal for the dogs.
Once again this would be an unrealistic request as the dangerous bends make the races more unpredictable and exciting for the punters.
Falls usually happen on the bends, the first being the most common and lethal. When the dogs are released from the traps, they will release adrenaline and accelerate in speed, sometimes crowding and knocking into one another, usually at the first bend. Dogs can suffer injuries from broken toes, to broken backs while racing on an oval track. There will always be horrific fatalities.
Crucially, there will never be enough homes for all the greyhounds who are used for racing. Bearing in mind those who are killed before retirement If good homes could be found for all of these young dogs as well as those leaving the industry, that would be a huge improvement but this is not a viable option given the current need for over-breeding of greyhounds in the search for 'winners'
Abolishment of greyhound racing is the only viable way to end greyhound cruelty
Approximately 80% of UK greyhounds are bred in Ireland, therefore the Irish greyhound breeding industry are primarily dependent on the success of UK greyhound racing.
The greyhound racing industry has been established for over 91 years in the UK and in that time it has failed to prove that it takes the welfare of the dogs, from cradle to grave seriously and eradicate any problems.
There will never be enough homes to re- home the vast amount of greyhounds bred for greyhound racing.
Doping of dogs and disciplinaries
It is important to recognise that greyhounds have a unique physiology and can be particularly hypersensitive to chemicals.
Analysis of the GBGB disciplinary records show that opiates are frequently detected in urine samples taken at greyhound racing venues.
Example: Cocaine (also known as Benzoylecgonine) poisoning in dogs can cause many symptoms including;
Hyperactivity (and associated behaviours such as stereotypies)
Increased heart rate
Increased body temperature
Aggression (Not documented in greyhounds, but other breeds)
Serious side effects; Seizures, stroke, heart attack and death.
There are numerous other drugs known to be administered to greyhounds (for purposes of race fixing and/or masking pain from injuries so that the dogs will still perform), that are extremely harmful and can lead to fatalities in greyhounds.
Here are just a few of many examples from recent hearings where breaches of rules and punishments meted out by the GBGB seem wholly inadequate:
Pentobarbital. Penalty: caution, no fine.
Morphine, codeine and oripavine. Penalty: none.
Minoxidil. Penalty: a caution and £250 fine.
Glaucine. Penalty: none.
Cetirizine. Penalty: caution and £250 fine.
Dihydrocodeine. Penalty: none.
It is well documented that poppy seeds can deliver a ‘False’ positive result for opiates, and this has been frequently used as an excuse by greyhound trainers. The feeding of ABP1 and ABP2 meat which is high risk for contaminants, is also regularly blamed for positive drug test results, and has resulted in disciplinary advice being given against its use, additionally greyhound trainers have been advised that great care should be exercised when feeding dogs brown bread. (We believe that brown bread and ‘high risk’ meat is highly inadequate for a greyhound diet)
During many disciplinaries, the GBGB has advised that Greyhound trainers avoid the use of brown bread and contaminated meat in feed, but this advise seems to be ignored as greyhound trainers repeatedly continue to use these excuses when their dogs are tested positive for drugs.
While the greyhound racing industry remains self regulated, drug abuse in dogs will remain a serious problem. We understand that the decision to sample greyhounds at each track is normally down to an individual steward.
The punishment issued to trainers cannot be considered a suitable deterrent.
Doping and the welfare of greyhounds
In many cases the drugs given to greyhounds to fix races or mask injuries are not licensed for use in canines, and even those that are licensed are usually only legally available via vet-prescription. Dangers can include seizure, heart attack, stroke, drowsiness, hallucinations, and death.
To give just a few examples, the dangers of specific drugs include:
Amphetamine – a Class B drug which in dogs can cause sedation, muscle tremors, seizures, increased heart rate, death.
Cocaine - a Class A drug which has no veterinary application and affects dogs in the way it affects humans, by stimulating the brain. It can also have significant effects on other body systems including heart function.
Cetirizine – can have a depressant effect on the nervous system.
Glaucine - can cause weakness, sleepiness, hallucinations.
Minoxidil - has a stimulating and toxic effect on the heart
Morphine - can cause either sedation or excitement, constipation and other adverse effects.
Pentobarbital - causes sedation, anaesthesia and death by cardiac arrest. If meat from an animal euthanized using pentobarbital is fed to dogs there is a realistic risk of adverse effects
Oripavine - highly toxic and can cause seizures
Why greyhounds may be given drugs
Predominantly, greyhound trainers give drugs to greyhounds to alter a dogs performance also known as race fixing or cheating. Drugs may also be used to temporarily mask previous injuries which impair a dog’s performance at the track.
Unregulated legal greyhound tracks
There are 4 Independent greyhound race tracks in the UK. These are Thornton, Scotland), Wheatley Hill and Askern in England and, The Valley, in Wales, independent tracks do not have a regulatory body. Each track is licensed by the local authority in which they fall under, but there is no formal monitoring system and no accountability for injuries or death of dogs.
If a greyhound is lucky enough to finish racing at a GBGB licensed track, they then become unregistered, and are no longer the responsibility of the GBGB, so when their days on the licensed tracks are over, they may then be handed down to the hobbyists (also known as flappers) who race dogs at unregulated tracks. Once these dogs are no longer registered they fall under the supposed protection of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, sadly this act is not sufficiently enforced leaving these dogs wide open to abuse and/ or unnecessary death.
Vet services are often offered to euthanise dogs at these tracks, at a very cheap rate; Usually around £30 or less per dog.
Hobbyists don’t earn a big income from their dogs and many will opt to destroy them when they sustain minor injuries.
While these tracks continue to exist without any regulatory body, and with no code of practice, we believe the only way to deal with the issue is for mandatory licensing and inspections by an independent body. Ideally though, we would like to see these tracks coincide with a phased out ban of licensed greyhound racing.
Export of Greyhounds
Exporting of greyhounds for commercial ‘use’ Racing, breeding, hunting, etc
Over the last 18 months the exports of Irish and UK greyhounds have been brought to our attention. Barbaric practices are being carried out on greyhounds in countries where there are little or no animal welfare laws. For example, greyhounds are being found in the Chinese dog meat trade and are also being poisoned by IV administered 'Ecotraz' in Vietnam (A highly painful death) and are regularly being shipped from the UK to Pakistan, where we are told by Pakistan Citizens that they are only used to race for one season and are occasionally passed on to the pig hunters, where they will meet an horrific end when used to fight wild boar. (Birmingham Greyhound Protection have felt it necessary to set up kennels in China 'Candy Cane Rescue' to save greyhounds from the dog meat trade)
Both Champion greyhounds and those deemed no longer suitable for racing, are exported for use of breeding, racing, hunting to countries where they are not protected from horrific suffering and death.
In May 2016, Caged Nationwide intercepted a transport of 24 greyhounds on their way to China, and after bringing media attention to the case, Heathrow Airport Animal Reception declined to allow the dogs to travel due to the shoddy crates their owners were intending to ship them in. The dogs were returned to Ireland but the owners/ trainers and transporter involved were not punished. One of the transporter vehicles carrying the dogs did not comply with the Welfare of Animals During Transport Order (WATO) as it was an unequipped furniture removal van that was used to loosely stack the dogs in.
In October 2016 we attended 'World Freight Services' (WFS) in Manchester, following a tip off in relation to 4 greyhounds being exported to Pakistan. After several hours, and discussions with the staff at WFS the dogs were declined to fly on that date due to a safety hazard, in relation to the containers that they were being shipped in.
On Sunday the 22nd October 2017 we became aware of another export of 4 greyhounds to Pakistan via World Freight Services (WFS) and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). We believe a very small animal handling company had arranged the shipment. This case was greatly exposed on social media. We attended the WFS to protest the export of the dogs on the day they were due to leave, but on our arrival the police advised us that the owner decided to delay the shipment due to the pressure he was under. We kept watch for the remainder of the day but no Greyhounds were seen arriving to WFS that day, however we believe the owner will attempt to ship the dogs on another flight to Pakistan.
We believe a minimum of 20 greyhounds had flown from Manchester airport, via Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) within the following 10 months and with the help of just one small animal handling company. Additionally we believe that WFS World Freight Services had no objections to generally handling greyhounds as Cargo for PIA.
Please see UK and Irish greyhounds exported to China and Pakistan on the below links:
Candy Cane Greyhound Rescue in China was founded By Kerry Elliman of Birmingham Greyhound Protection (BGP) to savel greyhounds from the Chinese dog meat trade.
Caged Nationwide collated a list of airlines who agreed to ship greyhounds overseas, including China.
We are still liaising with airlines who we sent a proposal for an embargo, supported by 50 signaturies, consisting largely of animal rescue organisations (Including 4 who are very well recognised) who agreed to fully supporting a proposal in support of an embargo on the shipment of greyhounds for commercial USE, i.e breeding, hunting, racing, etc, with exception of greyhounds being shipped by legitimate rescue to their counterparts for the sole purpose of re homing in countries that have up to date animal welfare protection laws.
The letter is also supported by two TD's and the actress, writer, Pauline McLynn, and also the actor/comedian Ricky Gervais
We believe all greyhounds bred in the UK and Ireland should remain in these countries.