The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has called for a statutory levy to be placed on bookmakers (including online bookmakers) profiting from greyhound racing in the UK.
The statutory levy has been called for in a letter from the Committee’s Chair, Neil Parish MP, to Tracey Crouch MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport and Civil Society, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The previous EFRA Committee reported on the subject of Greyhound welfare in February 2016, and called for greater transparency on numbers of retired greyhounds and a statutory levy on bookmakers. The report found that bookmakers must contribute more to protecting racing dogs and should not prioritise profit over high welfare standards. The aim of the statutory levy is to improve the level of animal welfare protections afforded to racing dogs before, during, and after their active racing careers.
This call comes on the day that the Greyhound Board of Great Britain releases its figures relating to the levels of injuries, retirements, and euthanasia in licensed greyhound racing. This is the first time such figures have been published by the industry. The Committee welcomes the publication of the figures and the greater transparency they provide, but also wishes to see further efforts to reduce the number of dogs euthanised due to financial considerations.
Neil Parish MP, Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said: “Greyhound racing should be subject to the same high standards that we expect of any sport involving animals. If greyhound racing is to thrive in the UK, it must prioritise animal welfare over financial gain. Bookmakers make huge profits on greyhound racing and they have a responsibility to support greyhound welfare whether they trade from the High Street or trade online. We remain resolute in our belief that a statutory levy on bookmakers is essential to protect the welfare of racing dogs in the UK.”
“We welcome the figures published today by GBGB, showing a commitment to greater transparency about the destination of retired racers. However, we are concerned that 355 dogs were put to sleep last year because no suitable home could be found or because of the high cost of medical treatment. The welfare of racing dogs should be paramount and every effort should be made to reduce the number of dogs being put to sleep for economic reasons.”
Dr Fiona Cooke, Head of Welfare for Forever Hounds Trust, says: “Forever Hounds Trust is pleased to see the continuing efforts to improve welfare standards for racing greyhounds. There is much left to do to protect the welfare for all greyhounds, and we continue to strive towards ensuring the welfare of each and every greyhound is prioritised.”
The news from EFRA follows the figures released by the GBGB. For more details, click here.