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Analysis of Responses to the Consultation Document 'Proposals to Revise Existing Animal Welfare Legislation'

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ANALYSIS OF RESPONSES TO THE CONSULTATION DOCUMENT 'PROPOSALS TO REVISE EXISTING ANIMAL WELFARE LEGISLATION'

(12) Greyhound racing

Paragraph 33 of the consultation document stated: Some welfare concerns have been raised regarding a predominantly betting industry led business regulating itself with regard to the welfare of dogs. The National Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC) works to a Code of Practice and regulates one of the greyhound racing tracks in Scotland. The other tracks are independent tracks, unregulated and do not require that veterinary cover is in place at all races.

34. (12.1) Do you believe that all greyhound racing courses should be licensed in animal welfare terms? (12.2) Do you think that a veterinary surgeon needs to be present at all greyhound races and should all dogs be inspected by a vet before and after each race? (12.3) Should there be a limit on the frequency that dogs can race? (12.4) What responsibility should be placed on the dog owner to ensure that the welfare of the dog is covered when its racing career is over?

Overview

65 responses were received on this issue. Responders included 14 local authorities and their representative organisation LACORS; 1 police force and their representative body ACPOS; 3 veterinary organisations; 12 canine organisations (including 4 greyhound racing organisations); 2 canine businesses; 12 animal welfare and sanctuaries; 15 individuals also responded, of which 2 were involved in aspects of greyhound racing.

Background

Responders, especially the organisations involved in the current regulation and running of the greyhound industry, provided a great deal of detailed evidence on the development and structure of the industry, including the registration of racecourses, the organisations within the industry and their roles:

The structure of the greyhound industry: The National Greyhound Racing Club and The British Greyhound Racing Board

  • Greyhound racing started at Belle Vue in Manchester in 1926. The National Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC) is the judicial, disciplinary and registration body controlling the majority of greyhound racecourses in Great Britain. It was formed in 1927 to fulfil a recognised need to regulate the sport. The British Greyhound Racing Board (BGRB) was established in 1979 as the representative body for greyhound racing under the rules of the NGRC. In June 2004 there were 31 greyhound racecourses that race under the rules of the NGRC in Great Britain, including one in Scotland. The rules protect the integrity of the sport and the welfare of the greyhounds that take part. The NGRC also licences the racecourses, everyone employed at a track that handles greyhounds, trainers and kennel hands. It also registers all greyhounds and owners to race on NGRC licensed tracks. Aside from those racecourses that are run under the rules of the NGRC, and are therefore also represented by the BGRB, there are around 20 independent racecourses, sometimes known colloquially as 'flapping tracks' in Great Britain, including five in Scotland. (British Greyhound Racing Board)

  • The BGRB can also act as an honest broker between parties. It recently helped introduce a new policy whereby a track promoter that wants to continue to receive grants towards the cost of vets must agree to contact the BRGB before any employment contract with a track vet can be terminated. The Society of Greyhound Veterinarians felt that there was a strong, if unsubstantiated, welfare perception that vets may be under pressure from promoters, for example, to pass a track as raceable during extreme weather variations. This change will act as a safeguard and support for the profession (British Greyhound Racing Board)

  • The BGRB which is composed primarily of race promoters and bookmakers, is a forum for dealings with government and provides PR and Internet services. It also directs the work of the Greyhound Trust. (Greyhounds UK)

British Greyhound Racing Board Welfare Committee

  • The BGRB Welfare Committee brings together owners, trainers, breeders, track owners and vets - all experienced professionals dedicated to improving the welfare of the greyhound as their priority. Fundamentally, the work involves welfare at a track level and projects so far have included securing significant funding for raising the standards of kennels at all NGRC racecourses. The Welfare Committee works with racecourses to develop 'best practice' in all areas - from preparing the track surface, to the angle of the bends and the type of lure the greyhounds chase. The Welfare Committee is also investigating training and education programmes with accreditation for track and kennels staff. This should impact indirectly on welfare as a more recognised career structure will also encourage experienced people to stay in the sport. (British Greyhound Racing Board)

The Greyhound Forum

  • This is an independent body in its tenth year. It is made up of all the major animal welfare charities - from Battersea to Blue Cross and the RSPCA. It is chaired by Clarissa Baldwin, the Chairman of the Dogs Trust. The BGRB and the NGRC are both members of the Forum and benefit from working with and sharing the experience of established welfare bodies. The Forum has drawn up a Welfare Charter for the Racing Greyhound. As a document, it goes less far as regards regulation than the NGRC rules. However, it is a valuable document as a testament to the progressive and positive relationship that we have with the majority of animal welfare organisations. More recently, through the Forum every track has nominated a member of staff to be the 'Welfare Officer', a point of contact for general welfare issues and concerns. (British Greyhound Racing Board)

Society of Greyhound Veterinarians

  • This is the specialist division of the British Veterinary Association and is dedicated to the veterinary care and welfare of the greyhound before, during and after its racing career. BGRB grants have been made towards veterinary training and education. It is vital that veterinary expertise accompanies much of the progressive welfare work - from the track work being done at Poole which is being overseen by a vet, to the validity of microchipping as an alternative to ear marking in greyhounds. The SGV is also keen to finish a training video/dvd helping less experienced vets gain some more specialist greyhound knowledge and skills. (British Greyhound Racing Board)

Retired Greyhound Trust

  • The RGT is long established (1979) as the only charity that specialises in re-homing ex-racing greyhounds. There are now more than 70 branches around the country. While many are based at or near racecourses there are only 31 licensed tracks so the geographical spread is far wider than that of the 'racing map' alone. The annual funding to the RGT from the sport has increased significantly in recent years - it currently stands at £850,000 (from £24,000 in 2000). Taking into account the projections of extra monies coming into the sport from the new agreement with bookmakers it is likely that by 2007 the RGT could be looking at a budget of several million. To this end the RGT trustees, chaired independently by Duncan Green the Chief Executive of Battersea, are looking at the structure and organisation of the RGT to increase its efficiency and the number of greyhounds re-homed. A major marketing campaign in the coming year will aim to increase the awareness that greyhounds do make great pets. In 2003, the RGT re-homed 2,600 greyhounds and there are many greyhounds that are re-homed through other welfare groups, such as Battersea and Blue Cross. Similarly, the number of greyhounds 'retired' but still housed at training kennels is estimated conservatively at around 5,000 by the NGRC. it is often the case that an owner may have one dog still in training and will pay a slightly lower fee for the retired racer and visit both on a Sunday as it is traditional. The BGRB cannot condone greyhound racing without the presence of a vet trackside at all times. It is keen to explore ways in which we can assist the migration of independent tracks with the right welfare facilities into the membership of the NGRC. (Most 'independents' would require significant capital outlay to build kennels of a specific size and standard to house the greyhounds in a controlled environment during the race evenings.) The BGRB supports any initiatives that have the best interests of the greyhound at its heart. As to legislation - it must be manageable and effective. (British Greyhound Racing Board)

  • The RGT is a registered charity whose work is directed by the BGRB and which depends on allocation of funds by the BGRF (currently £850,000 which does not meet the need). (Greyhounds UK)

Other current activities

  • Dumfriesshire Greyhound Rescue presented a petition to the Scottish Parliament on the welfare of racing greyhounds in 2003. (Dumfriesshire Greyhound Rescue)

Racing tracks and their regulation

  • There is one racecourse in Scotland racing under the rules of the NGRC at Shawfield. There are also plans for the development of a new NGRC track at Victory Lane, Wallyford, near Edinburgh. There is no representative body with which to check, but we believe there are still five independent tracks operating in Scotland. One of the most fundamental differences between the NGRC racecourse and an independent one is the provision of veterinary care. Under the rules of the NGRC, all racecourses must have a veterinary surgeon present for all trials and races. Without a vet at the track the racing cannot and does not start. Aside from being present to administer any remedial care, the vet also checks the greyhounds before and after racing. While the BGRB asserts that some independent tracks are relatively well run and maintained and some do offer access to a vet - albeit on a call-out system - with no regulation procedures or rule books to be adhered to, there is concern that welfare standards are not as high across the board as at NGRC stadia. (British Greyhound Racing Board)

  • There is no statutory regulation of greyhound racing in Scotland. However, one NGRC track, Shawfield, operates under their NGRC rules. The remaining tracks are entirely free agents and can do exactly as they please. (Dumfriesshire Greyhound Rescue)

  • There are five unlicensed (flapping) tracks operating in Scotland. Shawfield Stadium in Glasgow is currently the only registered track in Scotland. A new track is proposed for Wallyford, East Lothian, and the plans, which appear to be in line with the standards in the Greyhounds Charter, include separate re-homing kennels, which will be run by a charitable trust. (Scottish SPCA)

Reactions to the proposals

A small number of responders gave a number of general views on all the proposals. Comments on each of the specific proposals will be noted under the separate headings below:

  • 4 organisations agreed to all proposals. (The Vegetarian Society, Kirkwall Dog Training Club, Inverclyde Dog Training Club, Cat Action Trust 1977)

Scope of the proposals

A number of comments were made about the scope of the application of the proposals to the greyhound racing industry and also to other similar sporting activities:

  • Legislation would have to make allowances for 'Italian greyhounds', lurchers and whippets which appear very similar to small greyhounds but are usually kept as pets or for rabbiting but are not raced at tracks. (Moredun Research Institute)

  • In coursing greyhound events the hare can suffer. It is incompatible with the spirit and context of recent legislative changes with regard to fox hunting. (Moredun Research Institute)

  • Should the proposals not apply to horse racing? (Inverclyde Dog Training Club)

  • The legislation should be used to regulate all forms of animal racing including horse racing and trotting. (Animal Concern)

  • Most sports have a governing body with rules and regulations. I see no reason why greyhounds should be treated differently to other animals. Horse racing is strictly monitored, yet it is a betting industry too. (individual)

  • All greyhound racing courses and any similar forum where an animal is at risk or injury, should be licensed. (Catflap)

General issues and the greyhound racing industry

Responders acknowledged that a range of issues in the greyhound racing industry should be considered as these affected the well being of the dogs in a number of ways:

  • The welfare debate is the greatest single issue facing the greyhound racing industry. (individual)

  • Two major areas of concern: (if we accept that there is nothing intrinsically cruel in the racing of greyhounds) - (1) the welfare of the greyhounds during their race career; (2) the provision for the greyhound's long term welfare once its racing days are over. (individual)

  • Welfare problems of greyhound racing are not confined to the races themselves. Thousands of dogs are put down either relatively early in their lives because they are judged not to be good enough for racing or at the end of their racing career. (Advocates for Animals)

  • Welfare problems of greyhound racing are not confined to the races themselves. Greyhound racing leads to thousands of dogs a year being 'disposed of'. Large numbers are disposed of annually. They sustain thousands of injuries each year. It is very rare for these dogs to manage to find good homes. (2 individuals)

  • There are serious welfare issues connected with the greyhound racing industry. In Scotland, dead greyhounds have been found in a flooded quarry with their ears cut off to prevent identification; transport issues, with dogs crammed into unventilated vans; dead greyhounds found in carrying boxes in a lay-by on the road to the Stranraer ferry; and one greyhound dumped alive, but seriously injured, beside the M8 motorway. (Scottish SPCA)

  • The greyhound racing industry is detrimental to the health and welfare of thousands of dogs every year. There are issues surrounding not just the racing of the dogs, but also their breeding and destruction. (West Lothian Animal Rights and Veggies)

  • An unknown number of retired greyhounds each year face an uncertain future, abuse and abandonment of 'retired' greyhounds. (IFAW)

  • Dogs have physical injuries and mental stress. There are a lot of unwanted greyhounds. (individual)

  • The greyhound industry tends to cover up the shortcomings of its welfare programme, while the 'antis' protest is neither honest, logical, accurate or worthy of serious debate. (individual)

  • Greyhound racing is a totally cruel area of dog ownership. (individual)

  • Racing greyhounds are treated as a commodity - their creation, destruction and quality of life are for the purpose of the greyhound racing industry. Such rules as do exist for the care of greyhounds when they are on the racing strength are designed to satisfy the bookmaker's form book and not for any other reason. (Greyhounds UK)

  • Races are businesses and as such the needs of the animal may be overlooked in favour of the 'business good'. Hence, licensing in animal welfare terms should discourage the animal being overlooked. (Avon (Lanarkshire) Dog Agility Club)

  • Greyhound Action Scotland believes that racing in the United Kingdom is on par with Spain for inhumane conditions. Seven states in the USA have banned the act of greyhound racing in the last 10 years on welfare grounds. Other states have introduced a variety of other measures to prevent mass death and destruction of greyhounds with some states introducing laws to prevent the destruction of greyhounds after racing and others establishing statutory home finding measures. Those who contravene these laws face heavy penalties. Racing in countries such as Holland or France is a family day out without gambling. Any dog can race as long as it comes into the sighthound category. The dogs live at home with their owners and race on a straight track like whippet racing. Injuries are few and abandonment is practically unheard of. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

Question 12.1. The licensing of greyhound racing courses in animal welfare terms

Responders answered this question in a number of ways: (1) they agreed that greyhound racing courses should be licensed in animal welfare terms, (2) they agreed that there should be a greater regulation of the industry, or that (3) greyhound racing should be banned, prohibited or phased out. Each of these viewpoints will be discussed in turn:

(1) Agree that greyhound racing courses should be licensed in animal welfare terms

  • 34 organisations. (East Ayrshire Council, East Lothian Council, Falkirk Council, Fife Council, Glasgow City Council, Midlothian Council, North Lanarkshire Council, Stirling Council, ACPOS, The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland, British Greyhound Racing Board, Greyhounds UK, Dumfriesshire Greyhound Rescue, Scottish Kennel Club, The Brittany Club of Great Britain, Canine Concern Scotland Trust, Avon (Lanarkshire) Dog Agility Club, RCVS, BVA Scottish Branch, South of Scotland Wildlife Hospital, Vetwork UK, Lothian Cat Rescue, Scottish SPCA, Advocates for Animals, Animal Concern, Grampian Animal Defence League, IFAW, WAG, West Lothian Animal Rights and Veggies, Munlochy Animal Aid, Catflap, Scottish Centre for Animal Welfare Sciences, ACTA, League Against Cruel Sports)

  • 1 business. (Minches Hovawarts)

  • 9 individuals.

(2) There should be greater regulation of the industry

  • More control over greyhound racing is required. (individual)

  • Absolutely no doubt that legislation needs to be introduced to raise standards of greyhound welfare both during and after race careers. (individual)

(3) Greyhound racing should be banned, prohibited or phased out

Greyhound racing was not always perceived to be beneficial to the racing dogs. A number of responders, usually individuals, considered that the sport should be banned, prohibited, or phased out:

  • Would like to see an end to greyhound racing. (Grampian Animal Defence League)

  • Want greyhound racing to be abolished. (2 individuals)

  • The whole issue of greyhound racing should be revised and laws tightened up or better still stopped altogether. (individual)

  • Greyhound racing should be phased out, leading to abolition. (individual)

  • Greyhound Action Scotland believes that there is no realistic way that we can end the slaughter of thousands of healthy dogs as long as racing continues in Scotland. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • Greyhound Action Scotland recommends that all greyhound racing courses and stadia in Scotland should be made illegal and closed down, by gradual phasing out, with ample warning to the Scottish greyhound racing community, in order to minimise the amount of greyhounds that are 'disposed of' when the racing industry ends. If the Executive rejects the outright abolition of greyhound racing in Scotland, Greyhound Action Scotland recommends that a strict procedure, with a new statutory body, be put in place for the welfare and protection of racing greyhounds. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • The way to solve the welfare problems is to phase out greyhound racing by law. Otherwise, provisions should be introduced along the lines of the consultation document. (Advocates for Animals, individual)

Comments on the proposal to licence greyhound racing courses

Responders noted that the standards at unlicensed tracks should be improved, and that these tracks should be subject to the same rules and regulations as the licensed ones. One responder noted that a regulatory body should be established to oversee the welfare of the greyhounds. Responders also suggested the standards that should apply at these tracks. Some of these were seen in relation to current practices at registered tracks:

  • The Scottish SPCA is opposed to races where distress or injury occurs following the placing of excessive demands on a greyhound. (Scottish SPCA)

  • The unregulated tracks are a possible source of welfare problems and thus all courses should be licensed. (individual)

  • Should be licensed in order to promote the welfare of the animals. (RCVS)

  • Should ensure that welfare is a priority in all stadiums. (individual)

  • As long as greyhound racing continues, a licensing system should be put in place to protect the dog's welfare. (Grampian Animal Defence League)

  • The welfare of racing greyhounds must be the first priority of the racetracks whether or not they are under the National Greyhound Racing Club. (Union of Country Sports Workers)

  • Especially on independent tracks, welfare conditions can be very variable. (League Against Cruel Sports)

  • It is appalling that there is no regulation applied to the majority of tracks. (individual)

  • Flapper tracks should be removed. (individual)

  • The main problems lie with unregulated 'flapping' races. These are almost impossible to police since they tend to deal with the bottom end of the trade and usually take place on 'unofficial tracks'. The background to such activities is usually illegal betting and the only way to tackle this effectively is by proper resourcing of enforcement officers. (Central Scotland Police, LACORS)

  • Flapping tracks should be registered. This would stop the licensed industry from continuing to state that it is the unregulated industry that brings racing into disrepute. We strongly recommend that measures are taken to safeguard the dogs at the licensed tracks that cause the mass slaughter. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • The same rules and codes should apply for all tracks. (ACTA)

  • Flapper tracks should be subject to the same standards and regulations. (Greyhounds UK)

  • All greyhound tracks should operate under the same welfare code. (North Lanarkshire Council)

  • All greyhound tracks should be regulated by similar codes, either by the NGRC or local authority. (ACPOS)

  • We would support the licensing of tracks and regulations to ensure that all tracks operate under the same rules. (Dumfriesshire Greyhound Rescue)

  • In an ideal world there would be no unlicensed racetracks and all tracks would race under the rules of the NGRC. However, the independents (unlicensed tracks) may not wish to operate under the NGRC. For the good of the greyhounds and the sport itself it is important the above safeguards become law. (individual)

  • There should be adequate licensing and compulsory regulation. (West Lothian Animal Rights and Veggies)

  • The NGRB Code of Practice should apply. (individual)

  • The BGRB would support any way of bringing ALL greyhound stadia up to the high standards as required by the NGRC rules. These (rules) already require a veterinary surgeon to be represent at all greyhound races (i.e. at all NGRC resources) and a vet inspects all NGRC dogs before and after racing, as above. The BGRB would also like to see this as a requirement at independent tracks. (British Greyhound Racing Board)

  • Although the NGRC currently regulates some tracks, the quality of the regulation is not as comprehensive as would be wished. (Dogs Trust)

  • The NGRC Code of Practice is insufficient to protect the welfare of racing greyhounds and it is unrealistic for the 'sport' to be regulated and monitored independently without greyhounds dying prematurely due to the lack of available pet homes on retirement. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • Tracks run under National Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC) rules can have unsatisfactory welfare conditions - as indicated by the death of a greyhound from heat stroke in Catford (August 2002). We do not believe that it would be acceptable merely to replicate NGRC standards in law. Welfare standards for track kennels (including size and air conditioning), track construction and surfaces, and veterinary care, should be mandated by licensing authorities, to ensure that sufficiently high standards to safeguard greyhound welfare are maintained. (League Against Cruel Sports)

  • The greyhound racing industry has accepted the Forum's Charter for the Racing Greyhound, which is now applicable to all official tracks registered with the National Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC). There are currently 43 registered trainers in Scotland who must comply with the Charter. The Society supports the aims and objectives of the Charter for the Racing Greyhound, and is opposed to practices non-compliant with the Charter. All racing greyhound owners should ensure that the greyhound's trainer complies with all aspects of the Charter for The Racing Greyhound. (Scottish SPCA)

  • The Charter for the Racing Greyhound is the minimum acceptable standard. (Dogs Trust)

  • All greyhound racing tracks should be licenced and a condition of licence should be fully compliant with the Charter for the Racing Greyhound. (Scottish SPCA)

  • The NGRC Code of practice, along with the recent Greyhound Charter, is non-enforceable. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • Greyhound racing tracks should be subject to stringent licensing. (individual)

  • Adequate safeguards should be put in place at race tracks. (North Ayrshire Council)

  • There should be minimum standards in relation to track kennels. (individual)

  • Standards of kennelling should be introduced. (Fife Council)

  • Kennels at the greyhound stadium are not unlike a small version of animal boarding establishments and therefore it is felt appropriate to licence such venues. (South Ayrshire Council)

  • Greyhound racing tracks should all be upgraded to make them as safe as possible for the dogs. Greyhound racing should only take place on straight tracks that would reduce the risk of injury considerably. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • Track safety should be improved and independent track inspectors appointed. (Union of Country Sports Workers)

  • It is well documented that most injuries to dogs happen on the second bend when they are travelling at their highest speed. Tight bends greatly exacerbate the likelihood of collisions. Steps should be taken to ensure that future tracks are designed to reduce accidents and existing tracks should be required to conform to a set standard. (Dumfriesshire Greyhound Rescue)

  • Injuries to greyhounds on track, however, should be fully investigated at the expense of the track. Penalties and statutory notices to enforce the stadium to make improvements should be brought into place. Any track deemed to have more than one injury a week, should have its licence removed until such time as satisfactory improvements are made. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

Licensing: powers to grant licences

Responders considered that local authorities should have powers to licence greyhound tracks. They noted the extent of their powers in granting and refusing a license and ways in which a licence could be granted. The use of an independent licensing organisation was also suggested:

  • Racetracks may currently be licensed [only] in terms of public entertainment. (West Lothian Council)

  • Local authorities should have licensing powers for greyhound tracks and be responsible for setting standards at greyhound tracks and kennels and for inspection and homing services. (Greyhounds UK)

  • The welfare of greyhounds used for racing should be regulated. Local authorities should have powers to license and set standards at tracks, kennels and for homing services. They should have the power of inspection - and use it - to ensure these standards are met. (Greyhounds UK)

  • Greyhound Action Scotland does not believe that any independent individuals or groups could be sufficiently impartial to focus on the welfare of the greyhound. We would therefore recommend that any regulatory body is part of the suggested new statutory body established for animal protection. Greyhound Action Scotland does not believe the NGRC has the ability to refocus its concern from gambling to welfare nor could they ever achieve independent status. Self-regulation of the 'sport' clearly does not work. Greyhound Action Scotland would like to see a body that is led by the greyhounds' welfare. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • Local authorities should withhold approval for casinos at greyhound tracks if animal welfare standards are not met. (Greyhounds UK)

  • Without the basic requirements, a local authority should be allowed to withhold a licence to bet. (individual)

  • The operation of tracks should be monitored by the local authority. (individual)

  • Regular inspections should be carried out. (individual)

  • Tracks should be subject to spot inspection by local authority or Scottish SPCA inspectors. (Dumfriesshire Greyhound Rescue)

  • Those with previous convictions for animal cruelty should be prohibited from entering greyhounds into races, or being employed by race-tracks. (individual)

Question 12.2 The need for veterinary inspection

Responders answered this question in one of nine ways. All of these gave support for a veterinary surgeon at race meetings. However, the frequency of their presence varied:

(1) Agree that a veterinary surgeon should be present at all races

  • 19 organisations. (City of Edinburgh Council, East Ayrshire Council, Falkirk Council, Glasgow City Council, Midlothian Council, LACORS, Central Scotland Police, The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland, British Greyhound Racing Board, Dumfriesshire Greyhound Rescue, Greyhound Dogs Trust, The Brittany Club of Great Britain, RCVS, PDSA, Advocates for Animals, West Lothian Animal Rights and Veggies, Union of Country Sports Workers, League Against Cruel Sports, Scottish Centre for Animal Welfare Sciences)

  • 1 business. (Minches Hovawarts)

  • 4 individuals.

(2) Should be present at all trials and race meetings

  • 4 organisations. (Greyhounds UK, Greyhound Action Scotland, Union of Country Sports Workers, Moredun Research Institute)

  • Individual.

(3) Vet in attendance should be mandatory

  • Individual.

(4) Should be a vet in existence

  • 1 organisation. (North Ayrshire Council)

(5) In attendance

  • 2 organisations. (East Lothian Council, Canine Concern Scotland Trust)

  • 2 individuals.

(6) Should be present on race days

  • 1 organisation. (Animal Concern)

(7) Should be present at all times during racing meets and trials

  • 1 organisation. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

(8) A vet must be on call for the races; uncertain whether the vet needs to be at the races.

  • 1 organisation. (Avon (Lanarkshire) Dog Agility Club)

(9) Other comments relating to veterinary inspection

  • 4 organisations. (West Lothian Council, The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland, WAG, Scottish Kennel Club)

Comments on the need for veterinary inspection

Responders suggested why veterinary inspection should be provided. They noted the need to ensure the welfare and also the health and safety of the racing dogs. They noted the character of the people that should undertake an inspection, such as an independent veterinary surgeon. They suggested the ways in which the inspection should be included in the licence, the time when the inspections should be undertaken, and the aspects of welfare that should be taken into consideration when an inspection was undertaken:

  • It is a silly situation for unregulated tracks not to have veterinary cover. (Minches Hovawarts)

  • Veterinary presence and inspections at all greyhound meetings is seen as good practice. (City of Edinburgh Council)

  • Thought that the use of veterinary surgeons being at these events was already in place. Surely dogs being inspected is part of the norm. (individual)

  • The 'sport' of greyhound racing puts each and every individual dog that is racing at a very high risk of injury. Although legislation is in place to ensure that in theory the animal should receive adequate and appropriate veterinary care, this is not always the case. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • Greyhound racing inevitably results in some injuries to the dogs and we consider that it is irresponsible of the sport not to provide immediate veterinary care in such circumstances. (Dogs Trust)

  • The BGRB launched an inquiry into the rates of injuries suffered by dogs at individual tracks. The transparency of this information is essential. Individual tracks may be ashamed that this information will target their deficiencies - perhaps to their commercial disadvantage - but the dogs' suffering should not be concealed. (Greyhounds UK)

  • Greyhounds can incur injuries. The outcome of injuries is influenced by the animal receiving appropriate veterinary treatment at the track shortly after being injured. (Moredun Research Institute)

  • It is imperative that a vet should be on hand during races - greyhounds can and do get injured whilst racing, and can obviously suffer enormously if veterinary attention is not immediately available. It should be a condition of track licences that a vet is on site during all races and trials. Similarly, it is vital that dogs should be inspected before and after races, to ensure that they do not race with injuries. Racing on old or unhealed injuries, even minor ones, can aggravate them, causing dogs to suffer and their racing careers to be cut short. Whilst there is, obviously, a limit to what can be seen in a brief inspection such as this, it will nevertheless act as a safeguard to animal welfare. (League Against Cruel Sports)

  • Should be in attendance to ensure the health and safety of the animals. (Falkirk Council)

  • The attendance of vets is a safeguard for the dogs in case something goes wrong with their well being, e.g. an injury may occur on the racetrack. Also their attendance gives the opportunity for owners and trainers to discuss matters concerning not only their racers but seek advice on issues related to the general well being of greyhounds. (individual)

  • The examination of the greyhound by the vet is as important at the trials as it is at the race meeting. (individual)

  • Some tracks do not have a vet present during racing. Injured dogs can lie in pain until the end of the meeting and then have to be transported for treatment or to be destroyed. We suggest that legislation should include a clause prohibiting racing unless a vet is present. (Dumfriesshire Greyhound Rescue)

  • One of the most fundamental differences between the NGRC racecourse and an independent is the provision of veterinary care. Under the rules of the NGRC all racecourses must have a veterinary surgeon present for all trials and races. Without a vet at the track the racing cannot and does not start. Aside from being present to administer any remedial care the vet also checks the greyhounds before and after racing. While the BGRB expects that some independent tracks are relatively well run and maintained and some do offer access to a vet - albeit on a call-out system - with no regulation procedures or rule books to be adhered to, there is concern that welfare standards are not as high across the board as at NGRC stadia. (British Greyhound Racing Board)

  • These [rules] already require a veterinary surgeon to be present at all greyhound races (i.e. at all NGRC resources) and a vet inspects all NGRC dogs before and after racing, as above. The BGRB would also like to see this as a requirement at independent tracks. (British Greyhound Racing Board)

  • A veterinary surgeon that is licensed by the regulatory body should be present at all times during racing meets and trials. A second veterinary surgeon should also be present to carry out drug tests and examinations of the dogs. The costs of the veterinary surgeon should be borne by the stadium. However, a regulatory body should employ the veterinary surgeon. A special licence should be issued to the veterinary surgeon, which could be withdrawn if there are any signs of dishonesty. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • Veterinary surgeons who attend tracks during racing are paid by the track management and can be dismissed at any time. Their responsibilities are to ensure that the greyhounds are fit to race and that the racing conditions do not endanger them. A veterinary surgeon who addressed the World Greyhound Federation Conference in 1998 disclosed that pressure to allow racing against professional judgement can be intense (and imperil continued employment). (Greyhounds UK)

  • Should be a qualified veterinary surgeon. (The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland, individual)

  • Should be an independent veterinary surgeon. (Scottish Kennel Club, Grampian Animal Defence League, IFAW, League Against Cruel Sports)

  • Should be independent of track management and independently financed. (Greyhounds UK)

  • It is also important that the vet should be independently employed, rather than directly by the track, so there cannot be pressure on them to make decisions which will be popular with the management, rather than which are best for the dog(s) concerned. (League Against Cruel Sports)

  • An independent veterinary service licensed by the local authority should provide a veterinary surgeon at every greyhound meeting and trial and be available to advise the local authority. (Greyhounds UK)

  • Only when they are free of commercial pressure will they be able to exercise professional judgement appropriately to the benefit of the dogs. Veterinary inspections before and after the race should be routine and we propose an annual 'MOT' for every racing dog to investigate the dog's general health and latent injuries. The same veterinary surgeons should be available to advise local authorities in their functions. (Greyhounds UK)

  • From an enforcement point of view, the presence of a vet would be desirable, though such a specific obligation could be disproportionately burdensome at smaller meetings where non-vets might be deemed sufficient. (North Ayrshire Council)

  • For most tracks and for reputable trainers, the presence of veterinary surgeons at £1/minute+ would be an unnecessary burden. (Central Scotland Police)

  • Veterinary examination could be a licence requirement of the course. (Central Scotland Police)

  • Veterinary examination must be included in the licence conditions. (WAG)

  • Veterinary examination should be a condition of any licence granted. (Scottish Kennel Club)

  • This authority requires a veterinary inspection and report prior to any new application for an animal licence to be granted. If this proposal were implemented completely, it would have staffing implications for this authority. (West Lothian Council)

  • Only if the greyhound is fully fit and without injury, should it be allowed to race. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • Any animals deemed to be unfit should be prevented from racing. (Grampian Animal Defence League)

  • The inspection could include random dope tests, such as those carried out in horse racing. (Scottish Centre for Animal Welfare Sciences)

  • All greyhounds should be drug tested before and after racing. Each dog should be fully examined for injuries, before and after each and every race or trial. Any positive drug test should result in the owner being banned from keeping greyhounds for life. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • Each and every greyhound owner should be registered with a statutory body. Each greyhound they own should be inspected by an independent veterinary surgeon that is not the greyhound track vet, on a three monthly basis, with the reports sent to the statutory body to prove that the greyhound is in good health and is still under ownership of the registered owner. The greyhound stadia should provide funding for this. Trainers should be restricted to six greyhounds maximum to train at any one time, with staff on a one member of staff for every two dogs basis. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

Time when veterinary inspection should be undertaken

Responders suggested that inspections should be undertaken at a range of times, usually before and after race meetings or trials:

  • Should be present at all races and after each race. (IFAW)

  • Inspections before and after races. (BVA Scottish Branch, Glasgow City Council, North Lanarkshire Council, Grampian Animal Defence League, West Lothian Animal Rights and Veggies, WAG, The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland, Advocates for Animals, Scottish Kennel Club, The Brittany Club of Great Britain, Munlochy Animal Aid, Lothian Cat Rescue, RCVS, Scottish Centre for Animal Welfare Sciences, 5 individuals)

  • Should be subject to veterinary inspection prior to racing. (Central Scotland Police, LACORS)

  • Inspection before and after every race or trial. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • Vets should examine the dogs after a race. (individual)

  • Conduct random visits to inspect dogs at such events. (Fife Council, ACPOS, Minches Hovawarts)

Comments on the time of veterinary inspection

Two responders provided comments on the need for inspection at specific times, and their reasons for suggesting these times. These were related to current practices and to the need to ensure the health and physical well being of the greyhounds:

  • It is imperative that a vet inspects the greyhounds prior to their race. An experienced vet can in the space of two or three minutes examine the soundness of the greyhound prior to its race. Under the rules of the NGRC, greyhounds must be kennelled at the racetrack one hour before the time of the first race. It is prior to this period that the vet carries out his examination of the race runners. However there is no kennel requirement in independent racing with many owners hanging around within the vicinity of the racetrack and presenting their dogs a few minutes before their race time. In such circumstances it would prove difficult for the vet to examine the runners so it would be necessary to have a ruling that runners be presented for inspection 30 minutes before the time of their race. (individual)

  • Dogs should be inspected by a vet before and after each race. This is certainly required for such high performance animals to ensure welfare and physical well being is protected. (PDSA)

Other comments on veterinary issues

One responder, Animal Concern, suggested that all dogs should be covered by veterinary insurance.

Question 12.3 A proposed limit on the frequency at which dogs can race

Responders suggested that restrictions should be placed on the frequency at which a greyhound could race:

  • There should be a limit (East Lothian Council, Glasgow City Council, North Lanarkshire Council, The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland, British Greyhound Racing Board, Greyhounds UK, Greyhound Action Scotland, Dumfriesshire Greyhound Rescue, Minches Hovawarts, WAG, Grampian Animal Defence League, Advocates for Animals, Animal Concern, West Lothian Animal Rights and Veggies, Lothian Cat Rescue, Munlochy Animal Aid, PDSA, League Against Cruel Sports, Scottish Centre for Animal Welfare Sciences, 3 individuals)

  • There should be a minimum time limit. (Scottish Kennel Club)

  • It should be the same as that for already licensed tracks. (Scottish Centre for Animal Welfare Sciences)

Comments on the frequency at which a greyhound can race

Two responders noted a number of broad issues that should be taken into consideration when developing a policy on the frequency at which a greyhound can race. They suggested limits that should be placed on the frequency at which they can race:

  • The limit should be appropriate for the health and welfare of greyhounds. The Executive should be guided by veterinary advice in this matter. (Glasgow City Council)

  • A minimum rest period must be imposed between race meetings and perhaps an examination on how the rest periods are calculated by the horse racing fraternity could be investigated and implemented where appropriate. (WAG)

  • If dogs are raced too often, then 'wear and tear' and the accumulation of minor injuries (which would recover properly if given sufficient rest time between races) can build up and cause them more serious damage. This is unacceptable in welfare terms, and also shortens the dogs' racing careers (meaning that they face the problem of retirement provision more quickly). (League Against Cruel Sports)

  • A low limit on the frequency. (individual)

  • Should not race at least on consecutive days. (individual)

  • A dog should have a minimum rest period of say 5 days between races. (Animal Concern)

  • Should not be required more than once a week. (Dumfriesshire Greyhound Rescue, Advocates for Animals, West Lothian Animal Rights and Veggies, League Against Cruel Sports, Greyhounds UK, 2 individuals)

  • Once a fortnight. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • The NGRC has only one rule about the frequency of racing - dogs should not race more than once a day. This is totally unacceptable. In our view - and that of several veterinary surgeons - dogs should only race once a week. (Greyhounds UK)

  • There are no written restrictions in the rules as to the frequency of racing for greyhounds at NGRC regulated racecourses. This is regulated at the discretion of a combination of the trainer and the experienced racing manager and will depend on the distance the greyhound races e.g. sprint or long distance races. On average a greyhound will run at his local track every week or 10 days depending on the number of greyhounds available to the racing manager to 'grade' (British Greyhound Racing Board)

  • Firstly, the racing programme of the greyhound is guided by the owner and/or trainer, the stadium racing manager and the racetrack vet (in NGRC licensed racing). All of the above would not ask a greyhound to over race. With qualification, fit greyhounds racing over sprint distances can readily and successfully race two or three times every seven days. The fit middle distance greyhound will comfortably race twice a week and likewise the stayer. The qualification is that all categories could not race on the above number of occasions every week throughout the year. A greyhound will hold its form with a reasonably busy schedule for six weeks or so. At that point he needs at least a couple of weeks relaxation before commencing his racing programme. Such treatment gives a fit, sound and fresh greyhound and gives longevity to his race career. (individual)

  • The frequency and number of races the dogs participate in should be dictated by the vet's inspection, not legislation. (The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland)

  • Veterinary advice should be obtained in regard to the optimum day's rest required between races. (East Lothian Council)

  • Only a vet could advise on the frequency of dogs to race. (East Ayrshire Council)

  • It would be difficult to determine the frequency of a dog's races unless some kind of national register was established - and it would be all too easy to circumvent such measures. (East Ayrshire Council)

  • Legislation also needs to account for the greyhounds that are trained and owned in Scotland but race across the border in England. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

There should be no limit on the frequency of racing

Two responders, The Brittany Club of Great Britain and an individual, suggested that there was no necessity for a limit to be placed on the frequency at which a greyhound can race. The last of these responders noted that:

  • It is unreasonable to place a statutory limit on the frequency of races a greyhound runs. The dog's well-being is looked after by the owner and/or trainer, the stadium racing manager and the racetrack vet and they independently or collectively will not over-race the greyhound. Also some greyhounds thrive on racing whilst others do not want a demanding race programme. The owner and/or trainer in particular will understand their charges and treat them accordingly. (individual)

Question 12.4 The responsibilities that should be placed on the dog owner to ensure that the welfare of the dog is covered when its racing career is over

Responders suggested that responsibility should be placed on the racing owner. Other responders disagreed with the proposal:

(1) Agree that responsibility should be placed on the racing owner

  • 23 organisations. (Aberdeenshire Council, Central Scotland Police, LACORS, Dogs Trust, British Greyhound Racing Board, Greyhound Action Scotland, Dumfriesshire Greyhound Rescue, Canine Concern Scotland Trust, Avon (Lanarkshire) Dog Agility Club, IFAW, Grampian Animal Defence League, Advocates for Animals, The Vegetarian Society, West Lothian Animal Rights and Veggies, BVA Scottish Branch, Scottish Centre for Animal Welfare Sciences, Dog Aid Society of Scotland, Lothian Cat Rescue, Munlochy Animal Aid, The Brittany Club of Great Britain, ACTA, Catflap, Cat Action Trust 1977)

  • 1 business. (Minches Hovawarts)

  • 8 individuals.

(2) Some responsibility

  • 2 organisations. (East Ayrshire Council, League Against Cruel Sports)

(3) Disagree with the proposal

  • 2 organisations. (East Lothian Council, Moredun Research Institute)

Reasons for disagreement with the placing of responsibility on the dog owner

Two organisations noted why they disagreed with the proposal to place responsibility on the greyhound owner. They noted difficulties with the proposal:

  • Although public opinion would be in favour of racing dog owners having the responsibility to ensure the welfare of the dog after its racing career was over, it would be difficult to produce workable legislation and even more difficult to police. (East Lothian Council)

  • It is unrealistic to force greyhound owners to find homes for all their 'retired' greyhounds. (Moredun Research Institute)

Comments on the proposal

Responders made a number of comments on the responsibilities that should be placed on the dog owner to ensure that the welfare of the dog is covered when its racing career is over. They commented on the problems caused by retired greyhounds, the effectiveness of current practices relating to the responsibilities of racing greyhound owners, the ways in which these could be improved, the extent of the responsibilities that should be placed on the owner, and the arrangements they should make to ensure the welfare of the greyhounds, including re-homing.

  • When the dogs can no longer race. There is no national framework for estimating or addressing the needs of the 9,000 dogs which cease to race each year. Some greyhounds are homed with their owners and some trainers can find homes or keep the dog in kennels at the owners' expense. Some tracks also operate a home-finding service, while the owner pays to kennel the dog. (Greyhounds UK)

  • Costs are borne unnecessarily by local authority dog warden services, the police and animal charities because of the failure of the greyhound industry to take responsibility. (Greyhounds UK)

  • Re-homing places great financial burden on many canine charities and voluntary groups. (West Lothian Animal Rights and Veggies)

  • Dogs are killed in horrific ways. There are a lot of efforts made to rescue greyhounds. Some owners, trainers and stadiums are responsible towards the dogs and work with rescue groups. (individual)

  • Responsibility - this sadly does not happen. (Lothian Cat Rescue)

  • In 2003 Greyhound Action Trust Scotland established that tattooed (registered) greyhounds accounted for 10.5 per cent of all rescued dog breeds. Lurchers account for 9.2 per cent. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • The current economics of the sport require support for owners in fulfilling that duty. (Dogs Trust)

  • The quality of regulation is not as comprehensive as we would wish, in particular the enforcement of Rule 18 which covers the ownership of dogs. (Dogs Trust)

  • Ownership of an animal should be for life, not just until it outlives its usefulness. (Catflap)

  • Retired greyhounds - all animals should have a degree of responsibility when being sold. (individual)

  • There must be a statutory requirement on the owner to ensure the welfare of the dog when its racing career is over. (Cat Action Trust 1977)

  • This should be mandatory with the offender being refused future entries. (Minches Hovawarts)

  • The owner should look after the dog for the rest of its life when its racing days are over. The owner should not be able to discharge this responsibility. (2 individuals)

  • Owners should look after the dog for the rest of its life after its racing days are over. The owner should not be able to discharge this responsibility by re-homing the dog. When a greyhound is re-homed, it is in effect depriving another unwanted dog of a home. (Advocates for Animals)

  • The owner of a greyhound or other racing dog should be required to take total responsibility for the lifetime welfare of the dog. This liability will pass to a new owner on sale of the dog. The new owner must be also be appropriately licensed. (Munliochy Animal Aid)

  • The owner of any dog is obligated to ensure its welfare at all times. If this is not the case then that person has committed an offence. (Central Scotland Police, LACORS)

  • When an owner registers a greyhound to race at NGRC tracks he is made aware of the responsibility of ownership. Rule 18 details at length that an owner must make provision for the greyhound once his track career is over. The RGT can assist those owners who cannot take their greyhounds home as pets. The BGRB is currently working with the RGT and the NGRC to improve the traceability of greyhounds and also to track down any owners who flout this important ruling. (British Greyhound Racing Board)

  • As with all other animals in ownership, the owner bears total responsibility for its welfare. In the case of the greyhound the owner's responsibility covers its racing career and its placement in retirement. (individual)

  • A requirement should be imposed on owners that ex-racing dogs be cared for and re-homed. (individual)

  • Once a dog's racing career is over the animal must be found a loving home or kept in a safe environment to allow the dog to retire gracefully. There must be an end to the current practice of disposing of greyhounds once their effectiveness is over. (WAG)

  • After a greyhound's racing career is over, it must be found a suitable home and only in extreme circumstances should a dog be humanely destroyed. (Scottish Kennel Club)

  • Dog owners should maintain dogs in retirement, find a suitable new home for the dogs, place them in a reputable (licensed) sanctuary or have the dogs humanely put down by a vet. (individual)

  • The obligations of the owner/keeper should continue until the greyhound is transferred to another owner/keeper or the animal dies - it does not end with the animal's racing career. While we would like the animal to enjoy a comfortable retirement and old age, the owner/keeper is within his rights to have the animal humanely put to sleep. (Avon (Lanarkshire) Dog Agility Club)

  • Should be obliged to find a suitable retirement home for any dog in their care or donate the animal and funds for its maintenance to a rescue centre. (The Vegetarian society)

  • Keepers should be required to assist in re-homing the dogs when their racing career is over, also any puppies not considered suitable to race. Alternatively, they could contribute financially to organisations involved in greyhound rescue. (Grampian Animal Defence League)

  • The owner should take all reasonable steps to find the dog a retirement home. The owner should be required to retain the dog, in good condition, for a set period to allow voluntary organisations, or others, to find a suitable home. It may be thought that one month would be an appropriate time, after which the dog could be taken into care by a voluntary organisation. Only after all attempts to find a home have failed, should the dog be humanely put down. (Dumfriesshire Greyhound Rescue)

  • Greyhound owners should be compelled to either re-home retired greyhounds in a suitable home, pass them to a registered welfare organisation or have the animal humanely destroyed. The owner must be able to provide documented proof of the dog's fate when asked. (Aberdeenshire Council)

  • Owners could have the legal responsibility to ensure that dogs are either sold (to another licensed owner), retired to a retirement home or, humanely destroyed by a veterinary surgeon. Greyhounds could have similar legislation as farm animals, where each animal is traceable from birth to death. (Scottish Centre for Animal Welfare Sciences)

  • Should have responsibility for ensuring the re-homing of retired greyhounds with suitable methods of traceability. (Canine Concern Scotland Trust)

  • No retired greyhound should be abandoned or sent to race abroad. (Grampian Animal Defence League)

Other proposals relating to the responsibilities of a greyhound owner

Responders also made further proposals relating to the welfare of greyhounds both during their racing careers and after their retirement. They suggested ways in which proper welfare provision could be made, especially for financial arrangements:

  • Advice of the NGRC and the appropriate animal welfare organisation should be followed on the matter of the responsibility which was placed on the dog owner. A bond could be lodged with NGRC for this purpose. (Glasgow City Council)

  • The responsibility for racing greyhounds should fall to the stadium owner(s). This would be possible if each racing greyhound had to be registered with a stadium. A quarter-yearly check and accountability exercise by the new statutory body to enable the greyhounds to be accounted for could result in fines against the stadium for each missing dog. Any retiring racing dog should be de-registered through a statutory body and rehomed through an approved rescue centre only. Where the racing owner wishes to keep the greyhound as his own pet, we would strongly recommend that follow-up checks for at least two years be carried out to ensure that the greyhound has not been destroyed. Rescue centres should be approved and registered with a statutory body. The stadium and the owner should jointly pay for the upkeep of the dog including veterinary bills until such time as the greyhound is found a home. The penalty for abandonment of a racing greyhound should be a minimum fine of around £10,000 for the stadium. If a stadium 'loses' more than four greyhounds a year, its licence should be withdrawn. An owner, who cannot account for produce his greyhound, should receive a fine of around £5,000 on the first occasion. A second 'lost' greyhound should result in the owner being banned from keeping racing greyhounds for life. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • The responsibility of establishing proper welfare and retirement provision across the industry rests with the industry as a whole, but primarily the bookmakers. However, it is also vital that the money given to the industry by the bookmakers should be spent properly to safeguard welfare. The cost of rehoming a greyhound is approximately £400 per dog (based on NGRC figures) - this is a heavy burden for an owner, especially given that the vast majority of owners keep a racing greyhound as a hobby. It should be the owner's responsibility to ensure that the greyhound goes either to a good home, or to a rehoming centre, but the industry and the bookmakers should pay for the costs of rehoming centres. (League Against cruel Sports)

  • The retirement issue is complex. It can be tackled by diverting some of the considerable profits made from betting. (individual)

  • A possible way to ensure the welfare of the dogs after their racing careers are over is to require owners to make financial provision for the dogs until they are re-homed. This would be difficult to enforce. (Falkirk Council)

  • A pension scheme should be established to secure funding for greyhound retirement. (Greyhounds UK)

Comments on the rehoming of greyhounds

A number of responders commented on general issues relating to rehoming. A number pointed out difficulties with this issue:

  • The proposals to introduce legislation to ensure that owners have a responsibility to their dogs after their racing career is problematic and emotive. (East Ayrshire Council)

  • This would be difficult to administer, but there should be some responsibility undertaken by prospective owners. Some 'certificate' could be included in the purchase of the dog, and the post racing checks could be undertaken by the British Greyhound Racing Board or a similar organisation. (PDSA)

  • Such legislation would require a register of greyhounds involved in racing and would be difficult to enforce if such a register were voluntary. (East Ayrshire Council)

  • The owner's responsibility covers its racing career and its placement in retirement. However to make sure this happens we need to know the identity of the owner and unless we have a register of owners and their greyhounds at independent racetracks we will be unable to enforce their responsibilities to the retired greyhound. On retirement from racing, the owner must either retire the dog into his own care or make arrangements to place the dog into retirement. I am not sure we can prohibit an owner from euthanasing a dog by a registered veterinary surgeon. I believe we need to encourage those owners not taking the dog into their care to provide a retirement home for the greyhound. The owner should pay a retiral levy throughout the racing career of the greyhound. This would create a pension fund for the dog and paid over to the greyhound welfare home that will care for the dog until its placement in a domestic environment. Should a greyhound have several different owners in its race career, the levy credit will belong to the greyhound in question, and will be there when it is needed on its retirement. The problem lies in unlicensed racing. If we enforce the keeping of a register of owners and greyhounds we find the answer to all greyhound welfare issues. (individual)

  • Greyhounds make good pets though there may be issues for owners such as belated housetraining. (Moredun Research Institute)

  • Greyhounds should be prepared for life after their racing career. The largest problem with racing greyhounds is psychological damage. Greyhounds tend to have been kept in kennels with other greyhounds and many have never been in a home, met another breed of dog, or even experienced being on their own. This makes rehoming a retired greyhound very difficult. It should be a condition of keeping greyhounds that they live within the home of their owner/trainer thus making their transition from racing dog to domestic pet easier. Living in a home whilst racing would lead to the greyhound learning at an early age how to live in a home as a pet. Major issues for racing greyhounds is separation anxiety and aggressiveness to other breeds. This can lead to destructive or noisy behaviour when left alone. If a racing greyhound lived at home with his owner, this transition would be easier. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • Dogs are difficult to re-home. They are perceived as needing a lot of exercise and not being trustworthy with small dogs. Racing owners should be encouraged to keep their dogs in the house - some of the re-homed greyhounds are not familiar with domestic appliances and domestic circumstances. (individual)

  • It is important that there is information for owners on the welfare of greyhounds who are past their racing career in order to discourage owners from abandoning the dogs. Recognise that it is difficult to police the abandonment of dogs. (The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland)

Other greyhound and greyhound racing related issues

Responders suggested a number of further issues that should be included in the proposed legislation: (1) financial provision for the welfare of greyhounds, (2) traceability, (3) euthanasia, (4) greyhound syndicates, (5) importation of greyhounds into Scotland, (6) exportation of greyhounds, and (7) penalties for cruelty and abandonment. Each will be discussed in turn:

(1) Financial provision for the welfare of greyhounds

  • More money should be made available for greyhound welfare. (Union of Country Sports Workers)

  • There is already substantial funding within the industry to introduce some of the necessary measures though they are not always available to those who need them. (individual)

  • Recent changes in funding and the distribution of it give some cause for hope that this will be addressed by the industry. (Dogs Trust)

  • The sport gained significantly more money from the bookmakers early in 2004 and the Chairman of the BGRB, Lord Lipsey, has pledged that a significant amount of that extra money will be used for welfare initiatives. However, he has been keen to stress that this must be a broad brush approach and the sustainable health of the whole sport must be improved from grass roots upwards. It is not simply a question of putting all the additional funding in one area - the re-homing of retired greyhounds for example. (British Greyhound Racing Board)

  • The greyhound industry wants to introduce a levy which will legally oblige bookmakers to contribute to the dog racing's financial well being. If the levy is introduced, it should be used to establish licensed sanctuaries to care for greyhounds in retirement not for the benefit of the greyhound racing industry. (individual)

  • A 'tax' should be levied on each entry fee which would go to an organisation such as Greyhound Rescue to help the welfare needs of retired greyhounds. Alternatively, the tracks should contribute a percentage of their takings from such events. (individual)

  • To register a dog a fee of say £100 should be payable and on entering a dog in a race a fee of say £1 should be levied. These fees should be paid into a properly constituted charity to care for unwanted and retired greyhounds. (Animal Concern)

  • Could have a tax on each racing dog which could be used for advertising for re-homing, public awareness, veterinary fees for a sick dog or re-homing or putting a dog to sleep. (individual)

  • Greyhound tracks should pay a levy to local authorities to finance both new provisions and existing dog warden services for greyhounds. Local authorities should be able to make grants to greyhound sanctuaries. A pension scheme should be established to secure funding for greyhound retirement. (Greyhounds UK)

(2) Traceability

  • Much of the cruelty/neglect which occurs does so because there is no requirement on owners or tracks to keep records. There should be a register of dogs. Owners should be required to account for them, and, if they are destroyed owners should be required to submit a certificate from a vet stating that the dog has been put down humanely. The costs of keeping a register could be met by a small betting levy. (Dumfriesshire Greyhound Rescue)

  • It is vitally important that all greyhounds and their owners should be traceable and that minimum standards are introduced before any track should be allowed to race. (individual)

  • Greyhounds should be registered on a publicly accessible database which shows those homed, destroyed or exported. (Greyhounds UK)

  • It is important that proper central records should be kept of dogs' destinations. Currently around 7-8,000 a year across the United Kingdom racing greyhounds simply go missing at the end of their career. Some may well have found good homes; some end up at rescue shelters; but some are simply killed, either humanely by a vet or more cruelly. For example, after the closure of Airdrie Stadium in 1994, 19 dogs were found drowned in a nearby quarry, with their ears cut off to avoid them being identified by their ear tattoos. (League Against Cruel Sports)

  • Greyhound owners should maintain logbooks for each animal they are responsible for. (Animal Concern)

  • All greyhounds should race under stud Book names and be registered in the name of bona fide owner to give traceability and accountability. (individual)

  • It would be most beneficial for racing greyhounds and retiring greyhounds if some kind of legislation was introduced to stop animals being 'sold' through newspapers or over the internet. Greyhound Action Scotland has real concerns about the greyhounds that are sold in this way. There appears to be no legislation for such dogs and there are real concerns for their safety. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • Every greyhound born should be registered and identified. (2 individuals)

  • Each racing dog should be registered and identified by microchip (not as easy to remove as a tattooed ear). (Animal Concern)

  • Greyhounds should be microchipped. (Grampian Animal Defence League, 1 individual)

  • Until DNA identification is available, all greyhounds bred for racing should be microchipped. (Greyhounds UK)

  • Dogs should be tattooed and microchipped. (IFAW)

  • The tattoo scheme would help. This should be Scotland wide. (individual)

(3) Euthanasia

  • If a dog is past its best, due to age or injury, euthanasia tends to be the first choice of the owners even if the dog could happily be retired and kept as a pet. (Moredun Research Institute)

  • Dogs that are past their racing career should be humanely destroyed if alternative homes cannot be found for them. They should not be abandoned. (Scotlean Pigs)

  • Premature euthanasia is not a welfare issue provided the animals are brought along to a vet for humane euthanasia. This tends to happen at NGRC tracks and kennels but may not happen at unregulated 'flapper tracks'. New legislation would have to discourage 'amateur' euthanasia and disposal. (Moredun Research Institute)

  • No healthy greyhound, nor those who have sustained treatable injuries from which they can recover, should be destroyed. This practice should be outlawed. The destruction of a healthy greyhound or sending them outwith Scotland for destruction should result in a hefty penalty including a ban on keeping animals. Should a greyhound be destroyed due to a racing injury a full investigation should be instigated. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

(4) Greyhound Syndicates

  • Greyhound 'syndicate' owners should be outlawed as there is not one individual owner or responsibility. At present, dogs owned by racing 'syndicates' fall into a grey area as regards their welfare. The NGRC require a form to be completed to register a syndicate, only one lead name has to be given. The names of the other members are not required and are known only to the lead person. Other than the initial NGRC form, at no time is this person's identity disclosed. Race meeting programmes list only the syndicate name and even if the dog is abandoned and is due for destruction at a council pound the lead name is not traceable. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

(5) Importation of greyhounds into Scotland

  • Recent research at the Dublin Greyhound Auctions showed inappropriate transportation of greyhounds from the Republic of Ireland into Scotland. Restrictions should be put into place regarding the numbers of greyhounds being imported and the way in which they are transported. A ban on importing greyhounds from the Republic of Ireland would cut down the numbers bred in Ireland. This may be unrealistic. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

  • Restrictions and safeguards should be placed on greyhound breeders. The majority of greyhounds who race in Scotland are bred in Ireland, where there are few controls. Therefore we would like to see breeders being regulated quite strictly to ensure that they are not breeding surplus dogs. One way of doing this is by allowing greyhound breeders a quota system. (Greyhound Action Scotland)

(6) Exportation of greyhounds

  • There is even more concern about the fate of greyhounds exported from the domestic industry for use abroad, particularly to Spain, where track standards are poor and means of destruction include hanging or injection with bleach. (Scottish SPCA)

(7) Penalties for cruelty and abandonment

  • There should be lifetime bans for those convicted of cruelty, abandonment or the neglect of dogs (individual)

  • The abandonment of racing greyhounds should be treated no differently to the abandonment of any animal and should be made the subject of an animal welfare offence. (City of Edinburgh Council)