Greyhound welfare Contents

Introduction

1.Greyhound racing has taken place in the UK since the 1920s. Although there has been a sustained decline in the sport’s popularity in recent decades, it continues to draw crowds and supported a £1.3 billion off-course turnover for bookmakers in 2014. 1 2

2.The animal welfare standards expected by the public today are higher than at any time in the past. At the heart of this report are the overlapping but sometimes conflicting perspectives of two groups. The industry supports high welfare and integrity standards during a dogs’ racing career, but principally sees greyhounds as commercial betting assets. Welfare groups, on the other hand, prioritise animal well-being and pay less or little attention to the economic pressures on trainers, promoters, and other actors in the industry.

3.The Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations 2010, which this report assesses, arose in part from publicity surrounding a number of media reports into deaths of retired dogs around 10 years ago.34 These events prompted two inquiries into greyhound welfare in 2007: an independent review of greyhound racing by Lord Donoughue, a Labour peer with a long association with sports governance; and an Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare inquiry.5

4.Since this time the sport’s economic situation has deteriorated and appears increasingly fragile: although declining revenue has to support increased welfare standards this in no way reduces the sport’s responsibility for the welfare of its dogs. The greyhound industry and bookmaking industry are interdependent and must successfully balance their commercial and welfare responsibilities to legitimise continued self-regulation of the sport.

5.This report assesses the effectiveness of the 2010 Regulations since their introduction and their success in safeguarding racing greyhound welfare standards. It will draw examples from other industries, such as horseracing, to compare and contrast the approaches taken. We received a wide range of written and oral submissions and have made two fact-finding visits to race tracks to provide a detailed insight into the current state of greyhound welfare.



1 Numbers of licensed race courses have more than halved since 1960 whilst independent tracks have gone from 87 to 5 in the same period.

5 Inquiries into greyhound welfare in 2007: Lord Donoughue’s Report, 2007 ‘Independent Review of the greyhound industry in Great Britain’, the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare ‘ The Welfare of Greyhounds 2007’




© Parliamentary copyright 2015

Prepared 22 February 2016