Forever Hounds Trust is often asked what our position is on the greyhound racing industry in the UK.
We have always maintained that we are not ‘anti racing’, but that we are ‘pro-welfare’. We have been considering this position as the two sides of that statement do not sit comfortably together.
We were recently invited to attend the meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group. This was a significant meeting, the first since the publication of the EFRA enquiry and ‘Greyhound Commitment’, and we listened to presentations from animal welfare groups, campaigners, independent greyhound rescue organisations and the industry itself.
The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) sent two senior members of staff to the meeting, showing a willingness to hear welfare concerns they have not shown in the past. Forever Hounds Trust, together with all organisations concerned with greyhound welfare, have been asking for many years for the industry to be more open about dog deaths and injuries on the tracks. In March 2018 GBGB published, for the first time in UK’s racing history, injury and end of life data relating to racing greyhounds. Having listened to the arguments on both sides, we feel that these statistics highlight considerable welfare concerns for those greyhounds involved in the racing industry.
In the 22 years since Forever Hounds Trust was set up, we have listened to the same excuses and obfuscations from the racing industry and we have seen only limited improvement to the welfare of racing greyhounds. Whilst we accept that the racing industry has made improvements, we consider that these are long overdue and could be viewed as being “too little too late”
The GBGB has acknowledged for at least 20 years that the only way to decrease injuries in racing greyhounds, particularly through congestion and collisions on bends, is to convert to straight racing, and yet nothing has changed. This would seem to contravene s9.2e of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which states animals should be “protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease”. Even the GBGB’s new Injury Recovery Scheme is flawed. It aims to fund £400 towards surgery for trainers who cannot afford to have a dog treated. And yet a simple hock fracture can cost £1,000 to treat. The GBGB wants to promote ‘responsible ownership’, but injuries are a predictable outcome of racing. A responsible owner should ensure they could afford to treat inevitable injuries before participating.
As a rescue and rehoming charity, we know there are not enough homes nor rescue spaces available in the UK for all the dogs retiring from the racing industry. Over-breeding of greyhounds to supply the racing industry adds to this problem and we have seen a lack of positive action or accountability from the industry to remedy this.
The facts are:
- “A minimum of 4,728 dogs are unaccounted for each year and we can assume that the majority of these dogs are destroyed. However, this figure does not account for dogs from independent racing or those which are bred for the British racing industry in Ireland. These figures must therefore be regarded as conjectural and are likely to be a significant underestimation of the true scale of the problem of unwanted dogs being destroyed.” (APGAW 2007)
- At least 40,000 greyhounds have been injured in the past 10 years on British tracks, and 18,000 of those injured dogs never raced again (Greyt Exploitations)
- 4,837 racing greyhounds sustained injuries on the tracks in Britain during 2017 (GBGB)
- Over 1,000 retiring greyhounds died or were put to sleep, with 257 euthanased at trackside during 2017 (GBGB)
- There are still no regulations to cover the welfare of greyhounds whilst in trainers’ kennels (Defra)
- An investigation into the conditions of greyhound training kennels revealed that breaches of even the minimal GBGB standards were common (Dogs Trust 2015)
- “Greyhound racing is inherently dangerous. Greyhounds race at high speeds in conditions which make injuries almost inevitable” (Hansen 2017)
We know there are ‘good trainers and owners’. People 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.
Therefore, in view of all this data, and with the welfare of the dogs at the forefront of all that we do, Forever Hounds Trust is updating its position on greyhound racing, and together with colleagues across the animal welfare sector, is calling for the phasing out of greyhound racing in the UK.
– APGAW 2007 – The Welfare of Greyhounds by The Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW), May 2007 (UK)
– Greyt Exploitations statistics. Available at: http://greytexploitations-greyhound-data.com/
– GBGB, Injury and retirement data. Available at: http://www.gbgb.org.uk/Injury%20and%20Retirement%20Data.aspx
– EFRA – Greyhound Welfare Report 2016. Available at:
– Dogs Trust (2015). The Greyhound Industry: Don’t Bet on Fair Treatment. Available at:
– Hansen, R. (2017). Report to New Zealand Racing Board on Welfare Issues Affecting Greyhound Racing in New Zealand. Available at: https://www.grnz.co.nz/greyhounds/Health-and-Welfare.aspx