As a charity dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of greyhounds and lurchers we see first-hand the emotional and physical scars the greyhound racing industry leave their discarded dogs with. Dogs often come to us in poor physical condition. Some have horrendous injuries sustained on a racetrack. It’s all too common for us to see dogs with broken legs requiring surgery to fix or sometimes even amputation. We’ve also seen de-gloving injuries and serious gashes that take months to heal, head injuries, spinal injuries and a whole host of aches, pains and sores. If organisations like Forever Hounds Trust were not available and willing to take in these injured dogs, cover their veterinary bills and care for them, it is likely they would be killed as they are no longer of any value to the racing industry.
Even those greyhounds without obvious injury often have problems caused from a life of racing or neglect. Rotting teeth, skin lesions, bald patches or muscular skeletal problems requiring physiotherapy.
We have greyhounds arrive with us who can barely walk down the paddock, and then we discover they were still racing just weeks prior to their arrival with us.
It’s so common for greyhounds to have these problems that it has been normalised. But it’s not normal. It’s the result of abuse that would not be condoned for any other breed of dog.
All of these reasons, and more have led to Forever Hounds Trust calling for a phasing out of greyhound racing in the UK.
In 2018 Forever Hounds Trust issued a position statement that called for the end of greyhound racing in the UK. Prior to 2018, when asked its position on greyhound racing, Forever Hounds Trust (formerly GRWE, Greyhound Rescue West of England) always maintained it was not ‘anti-racing’, but was ‘pro-welfare’. However, with the mounting evidence in front of us of the neglect and suffering of greyhounds at the hands of the racing industry, we came to realise that those two statements do not sit comfortably together.
With dogs continuing to be injured and killed on the UK’s greyhound racing tracks, over-breeding contributing to the neglect and deaths of dogs and poor welfare conditions for many of the dogs exploited as a money-making commodity by the greyhound racing industry, Forever Hounds Trust’s position has not changed since that statement was made.
The facts are:
- In 2019 the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) data confirmed 4970 injuries and 790 deaths of registered racing greyhounds. This does not include the many more injuries and deaths sustained on unregulated on ‘flapping’ tracks
- 10,000 dogs are deemed surplus to requirements each year. 8,000 of these are ‘retired’ racers while the rest are young dogs that didn’t make the grade. (League Against Cruel Sports)
- There are still no regulations to cover the welfare of greyhounds whilst in trainers’ kennels (Defra)
- “Greyhound racing is inherently dangerous. Greyhounds race at high speeds in conditions which make injuries almost inevitable” (Hansen 2017)
We know there are some trainers and owners who keep their dogs in good conditions, care for them and try and do the best for them at the end of their racing careers, although regardless of this, every dog is put at risk by the very nature of racing. We will continue to work with such trainers and take dogs from them for rehabilitation and homing where resources allow. This does not hide the fact that the industry as a whole has shown that it is incapable of reforming itself and improving the welfare of the dogs on which its profits depend.
We continue to take dogs from all areas of the greyhound racing industry. Our priority will always be to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome the greyhounds and lurchers that need us. We are also prepared to work collaboratively with any other organisation or individual with a shared aim of improving greyhound welfare.
Ultimately though, we have to be the voice for the greyhounds that come into our care, and for that reason we are seeking an end to greyhound racing as it is the only outcome that will ensure their welfare.
– APGAW 2007 – The Welfare of Greyhounds by The Associate Parliamentary Group
– GBGB, Injury and retirement data. Available here.
– Hansen, R. (2017). Report to New Zealand Racing Board on Welfare Issues Affecting Greyhound Racing in New Zealand. Available here.