The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) has issued an update on its welfare commitment, detailing progress across a number of areas.
Notably, the sporting body has focused on the British betting industry’s contribution to greyhound welfare standards, noting that its strategy can ‘only be released’ with the sector’s long-term funding.
Building on this, the GBGB states that it will evaluate how an ‘increased and fairer’ investment from bookmakers will promote and maintain greyhound welfare moving forward, whilst pledging to continue engagement with the sector.
All Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) members voluntarily pay 0.6% of their greyhound racing turnover into the British Greyhound Racing Fund, which funds GBGB welfare operations.
“This is one of the most in-depth and comprehensive strategies for working animal welfare that has ever been produced in this country,” said Jeremy Cooper, GBGB Chairman and former RSPCA Chief Executive.
“As well as demonstrating our commitment to the welfare of the greyhounds within our sport, it sets out, for the first time, standards and initiatives that cover all stages of a greyhound’s life – not only the period they are racing.
“This strategy firmly positions us as a global leader in animal welfare and we are excited to work with greyhound regulators across the world to ensure consistently high welfare standards for all racing greyhounds.”
Providing stakeholders with an update on the GBGB’s developments on welfare, the body explained that it had appointed an Executive Veterinarian to the Regional Regulatory Veterinary Surgeons to act as a potent of referral for track vets and Stipendiary stewards.
Further action included collaboration with animal welfare charities via the Greyhound Forum on responsible homing, and providing kennel workers, trainers, owners, track staff, vets and breeders with an enhanced training package.
Lastly, the body has partnered with independent academics to design, deliver and analyse data gathering and research programmes into genetics, nutrition and injury detection, and has collaborated with international regulators on sharing best practice.
Peter Harnden, GBGB Board Trainers’ Director, added: “Trainers and their staff work tirelessly to care for their greyhounds but there is more that every single one of us could do to learn and improve.
“This strategy offers opportunities for everybody working with racing greyhounds to build on their knowledge and skills so that, as a sport, we can give our greyhounds the best care at every stage.”
Statistically, the GBGB has successfully rehomed 94% of retired greyhounds, and has met its target of halving the number of dogs put to sleep due to treatment costs or lack of homing (from 180 in 2018 to nine in 2021, a drop of 95%).
The added target of halving the number of greyhounds euthanized due to injuries sustained in competition has also been met, falling by 50% from 242 in 2018 to 120 in 2021, representing a fatality rate of 0.03% – down from 0.06% in 2018.
However, despite the GBGB’s advancements, calls for a permanent prohibition of greyhound racing are still raised, with the leading Scottish animal welfare body, the Scottish SCA, recently calling for an end to the sport in the country.
Although deaths have fallen since 2018, the SSCA pointed out that 15 dogs died at Scotland’s only licenced greyhound track between 2017 and 2020 – described by the body as ‘15 too many’ – and has lent its support to a parliamentary petition to ban the sport in Scotland.
The GBGB, meanwhile, has repeatedly maintained that greyhound racing throughout Great Britain operates to high standards of welfare, with newly appointed Chair Lord David Lipsey highlighting this as one of the key objectives of his leadership.