By Emma Butler
The new Animal Welfare Manifesto from the Labour Party has included a mention of greyhound racing, stating that: “The lack of transparency around what happens to greyhounds after they are no longer fit for racing means we anecdotally hear of many cases where healthy animals are needlessly destroyed.”
The manifesto also says: “We must ensure that all retired animals are properly cared for….Issue best practice on responsible ownership and develop statutory minimum standards for racing and welfare…Introduce better mechanisms to trace ownership and implement a centralised database to record what happens to greyhounds after they are no longer fit to race. Regulations would be extended to Trainers’ Kennels which are not included in the 2010 regulations.”
Forever Hounds Trust has also been calling for better welfare standards for all racing greyhounds and for more transparency of what happens to dogs when they leave the regulated industry. Over the last few months Forever Hounds Trust has cared for several greyhounds that have been injured on unregulated, or ‘flapping’ tracks. These dogs have previously been raced on GBGB tracks and have then found themselves racing on unregulated tracks. Some of the injuries these dogs sustained were horrific and required leg amputations. Had rescuers not been ready to take the dogs immediately and cover all veterinary fees, these dogs would have lost their lives on the day of their last race. Instead they are recovering and will go on to live happy lives as much-loved pets.
But, these dogs won’t figure in the GBGB statistics. They were injured while racing, but not on GBGB tracks, so aren’t included in the official injury statistics. The ‘anecdotal’ cases of animals being destroyed mentioned in the Labour Party Manifesto are very much real, and if they happen away from the regulated tracks, they aren’t recorded in the GBGB figures. They are the hidden victims of the racing industry.
In a response to the Manifesto, reported in the Greyhound Star, GBGB Managing Director Mark Bird has said that the GBGB welcomes the Labour Party’s commitment to ensuring all retired greyhounds are properly cared for.
The GBGB response continues: “As part of our Greyhound Commitment, which sets out our expectations of how greyhound racing should be run with animal welfare at its heart, we have pledged to ensure that, wherever possible, every dog leaving racing enjoys a long and happy retirement. We work closely with our partner welfare charities to find suitable homes for all retired greyhounds from registration until retirement and beyond. Earlier this year, we announced the ambitious yet achievable target to halve the number of greyhounds being put to sleep on economic grounds within three years. Our ultimate aim is to bring this number down to zero.”
If this is the case, why are dogs that have left the regulated GBGB tracks being run to death on unregulated tracks? Dogs leaving GBGB tracks for flapping tracks are not enjoying a long and happy retirement. Far from it. Unrecorded numbers of greyhounds are dying and suffering serious injury while the racing industry turn a blind eye and remain unaccountable.
Forever Hounds Trust and our partner charities will continue to be there for these dogs. We will fix their injured limbs, keep them safe and find them their forever homes. And we will continue to be their voice, share their stories and campaign to bring an end to this suffering. They will not be the forgotten ones.