Greyhound welfare Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Impact of the Regulations

1.There is general acceptance that the formalisation of welfare standards at GBGB tracks and the extension of minimum welfare standards to independent tracks contained in the 2010 Regulations has improved the welfare of greyhounds at racetracks. (Paragraph 14)

2.The absence of baseline data regarding issues such as injuries, euthanasia or rehoming makes it difficult to accurately assess the impact of the 2010 Regulations on key welfare issues. (Paragraph 16)

3.The extension of minimum statutory guidelines to all greyhound tracks is welcome. However, significant differences remain between the levels of regulatory oversight of the two systems. (Paragraph 19)

4.We recommend that the frequency of Local Authority inspections of independent tracks be increased and include random inspections. (Paragraph 20)

Injury and euthanasia data

5.We are concerned and surprised that the industry has decided not to publish injury statistics after the 2010 Regulations made their collection mandatory. Data collection was introduced to identify the scale of injuries sustained racing but also to provide a source of information that could be analysed to support prevention in the future. The industry’s reluctance to go beyond the letter of what was required by the regulations in this respect does not inspire confidence in its ability to self-regulate. (Paragraph 32)

Current data

6.The development of a centralised database is welcome but should have happened earlier. It will need to be operated in an open and transparent fashion to rebuild trust between the industry and interest groups. Independent validation of injury data would go some way to alleviating the current climate of distrust. (Paragraph 41)

7.We support the view that the data should be made available for independent research so that any specific injury risk arising from particular tracks or any other identifiable reason may be accurately assessed and dealt with. (Paragraph 43)

8.We recommend that Defra amend the 2010 Regulations to require the publication of essential welfare data relating to injury, euthanasia and rehoming numbers. (Paragraph 44)

Kennelling standards away from the track

9.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. (Paragraph 50)

10.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. (Paragraph 52)

11.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. (Paragraph 54)

12.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. (Paragraph 56)

Traceability

13.The introduction of microchipping should significantly improve the tracking of greyhounds bred for racing from birth to death. However, we are conscious that this will require the GBGB database to be compatible with general pet databases. (Paragraph 60)

14.We recommend that GBGB verify the accuracy of the information held on retiring greyhounds’ microchips at the point they exit the industry to support improved traceability throughout their lives. (Paragraph 61)

Rehoming

15.We accept that some ‘unaccounted’ for dogs will have been euthanised if they are unable to be rehomed because of their temperament, and some will have stayed with their owners, but we recommend that healthy dogs should wherever possible be found homes at the end of their racing careers. (Paragraph 65)

Health and rehoming

16.The industry should investigate whether poor dental health is prevalent in greyhounds and assess whether there are any measures that could be introduced to improve dental hygiene. (Paragraph 68)

17.Given improvements at the track linked to recent regulation, the fate of retiring greyhounds that cannot be rehomed is our greatest area of welfare concern. The industry must be transparent about the destiny of retired racers. If the data shows healthy dogs are being put down on a large scale, greater financial support for rehoming activities must be provided. (Paragraph 71)

18.We recommend that data on rehoming is made available and that GBGB consider linking track licences to the operation of effective rehoming schemes or financial provisions to rehoming charities of an equal value. (Paragraph 72)

BAGS racing

19.BAGS racing supports the majority of all betting income and sustains the continued viability of the sport. However, it also drives high demand for dogs with potentially negative consequences for overbreeding and post-racing welfare. (Paragraph 77)

Voluntary levy

20.High welfare standards require financing. We are worried by the decade-long trend of declining income from the voluntary levy paid by bookmakers. We are also concerned that this revenue stream is threatened by the growth of online and overseas betting operations, which do not tend to make the voluntary contribution. (Paragraph 80)

21.We recommend that changes in the betting consumer market, such as online, mobile and overseas trading, must be better reflected in the regulatory regime. Bookmakers profiting from greyhound racing have a responsibility to support greyhound welfare whether they trade from the High Street or trade online. (Paragraph 81)

Improving welfare finance

22.We recommend that GBGB considers the following options for increasing revenue:

23.We believe government should apply greater pressure to bookmakers to pay a fair reflection of all the profits they make. If a voluntary agreement cannot be struck we recommend that government introduce a statutory levy of 1% of gross turnover. This will ensure the welfare of greyhounds is adequately funded in the future. (Paragraph 88)

Looking forward

24.We have not seen evidence of critical failings that warrant the creation of an independent regulator at this point. We invite the industry to exhibit its ability to respond positively to our recommendations in the interests of both greyhounds and continued self-regulation. (Paragraph 94)

25.We recommend a probationary period of two years continued self-regulation to allow the industry to respond to our proposals. It is vital that the industry demonstrates capacity to initiate welfare reform without legislative compulsion if it wants to stay self-regulated. (Paragraph 95)




© Parliamentary copyright 2015

Prepared 22 February 2016