Greyhound welfare Contents


45.During our inquiry we visited two greyhound tracks: Crayford in South-East London, a GBGB licensed track; and Askern near Doncaster, an independent track. Although kennelling conditions differ at the two types of track we were reassured to find the conditions were of an appropriate standard and overseen by veterinarians at both tracks.

46.Currently GBGB tracks provide 100% kennelling for all racing and trialling dogs whilst independents need provide only ‘adequate kennelling’ (for at least 20% of the dogs present for trialling or racing). Our initial concerns that this was insufficient were allayed by our visit to the Askern track. We found that, in line with Defra Minister Eustice’s understanding, the majority of owners do not use the kennels at independent tracks and the 20% quota is therefore sufficient.28

47.In our view the more pressing welfare issues facing the industry are away from the track. This section will focus on kennelling whilst later sections will address the post-racing life of greyhounds and financial state of the industry.

Kennelling standards away from the track

48.Racing greyhounds spend approximately 95% of their time at trainers’ kennels. These kennels are not covered by the 2010 Regulations or the Boarding Establishments Act 1963 but do come under the remit of the Animal Welfare Act.

49.We have heard kennelling arrangements away from the track differ substantially between the two systems, reflecting their different focuses:

50.We advise Defra to encourage Local Authorities to take a more active role in inspecting private commercial kennel conditions away from the track. It seems appropriate to have the same levels of oversight of private kennels across both systems.

Kennel hands and husbandry

51.According to a 2014 Deloitte report, trainers make a net loss of £3 million per year.32 The Greyhound Trainers Association has linked this financial environment to kennel staff and owners working long hours at less than minimum wage and poor kennel conditions.33 This was echoed by the Race Course Promoters Association:

“We are very close, as an industry, to not being viable and, in particular, not meeting our commitments to our employees, who are trainers and kennel-hands”.34

52.It is important that greyhound welfare is protected away from the track, that kennel conditions meet an agreed welfare standard, that the training facilities are adequate and that kennel hands receive proper pay and training to carry out their duties.

Improving kennel standards

53.The frequency of GBGB inspections appears robust but welfare groups have expressed worries about the conditions at private kennels, providing us with examples of undercover investigations of kennels that did not appear to meet the current standards set by GBGB.35

54.Given reports of poor conditions at some kennels and current financial strain on trainers and owners, we welcome the industry’s acceptance that kennel standards should be independently verified.

55.We support GBGB’s stated aim to raise standards at kennels and intention to work with the British Standards Institute to develop a common standard. 36 We emphasise the need for independent welfare specialists to be included in the drafting of these requirements.

56.We recommend that Defra consider extending the 2010 Regulations to cover trainers’ kennels, that common welfare standards be developed for all kennels, and that an independent body verify those standards.

28 Q 184 [Mr Eustice]

29 Interviews with trainers at the Crayford track visit provided these numbers

30 Greyhound Board Of Great Britain (GHW 55) para 3.5

31 ibid

33 Greyhound Trainers Association (GHW 69)

34 Q 163 [Mr Curran]

35 Dogs Trust,’ The Greyhound industry: don’t bet on fair treatment’ 20 October 2015, League Against Cruel Sports (GHW 09), Greyt Exploitations (GHW 68) para 2, Caged North West (GHW 66)

36 Q 128 [Mr Kelly]

© Parliamentary copyright 2015

Prepared 22 February 2016