Times are definitely changing in the greyhound racing world. There are many changes taking place in the United States, but there are also changes possibly taking place in England after the numbers were released showing that nearly 1,000 greyhound racing dogs either died or were killed last year in England. This has leading animal welfare groups to call for an end to the sport in the United Kingdom. That may include Scotland and Ireland as well.
The staggering numbers were released by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, (GBGB) in an effort to improve conditions of greyhound racing and limit the number of unnecessary animal deaths.
What Can Be Done
Welfare groups say that the idea of reforming the sport cannot be done because of the “dangerously configured” oval tracks that cause a majority of the dog’s injuries. The only option is to end the sport altogether, which has been around since the 16th century.
“The greyhound industry continually fails to live up to its promises to truly put welfare first,” said Chris Luffingham from the League Against Cruel Sports. “What these greyhounds really need is not yet more promises from the industry, but for the sport to be phased out and the greyhounds found good homes where they can live long and healthy lives.”
Once the greyhounds get injured, many of them are put down due to the high cost of medical bills, as well as the struggle to find a suitable home. In 2018, hundreds of dogs were put down for these reasons.
What the GBGB Thinks
The GBGB feels that these deaths to the dogs are “avoidable and unnecessary deaths,” which they say have no place in the sport. Around 250 greyhounds were euthanized on the track last year, with some dying from sudden death and another 190 being put down for being “unsuitable for homing.” Totally heartbreaking!
According to the GBGB, roughly a quarter of the dogs were given new homes and sixty percent were taken in by a greyhound charity.
Trudy Baker, coordinator of Greyt Exploitations, a nonprofit aimed to protect greyhounds, says even when the dogs were retired, they stayed in a dangerous environment.
“The truth is hundreds of dogs listed as ‘retired’ by the GBGB still remain in a commercial environment, confined to trainers’ kennels that have failed to comply with an agreed British Standard Institute specification, either used for breeding, forced to routinely donate blood or simply awaiting rehoming,” Baker said. “No amount of ineffective ‘window dressing’ welfare commitments will address the suffering and deaths of thousands of dogs racing on dangerously configured tracks.”
Mark Bird, the managing director at GBGB, says the industry needs increased and sustained funding to allow welfare programs to flourish for the greyhounds. For others, transparency is key to helping the greyhounds.
In the United States, greyhound racing has been legal since 1931. The sport has declined over the years and is currently illegal in forty-one states. Only five states have active dog racing tracks: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Florida, Texas, and West Virginia. In 2018, Florida voted to phase out greyhound racing in the state by 2021, and the last track closed in April.
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