The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) has brutally criticised calls from the RSPCA, Blue Cross and Dogs Trust for a ban on greyhound racing across the UK.
In a statement released today, the three animal welfare charities cited a recent internal review into greyhound racing, which came to the conclusion that there are issues in the sport that ‘have not and cannot be resolved’, requiring an outright ban.
Concerns cited by the charities include greyhounds racing under ‘extreme weather conditions’, and inadequate standards in both kenneling and living conditions as well as transportation to and from fixtures.
Additionally, the trio have accused the sport of ineffective regulation and lacking transparency on industry practices and enforcement of standards, as well as an absence of ‘consistent source of income’ for the sector hindering improvements.
Lastly, the charities’ review has highlighted puppies being ‘unaccounted for’ between birth and registration as racing dogs, which they stated are ‘so often referred to in the sector’ as ‘wastage’.
“It’s shocking that more than one dog a day is dying due to racing which our review has determined is inherently unsafe and compromises their welfare at almost every stage of their lives; it simply isn’t acceptable,” said RSPCA Chief Executive Chris Sherwood.
“We’ve tried to work with the industry over the years to bring in better protection and improve welfare for the dogs but we’re not satisfied that enough progress has been made.
“We feel that now, moving forwards, the only way we can secure good lives for these dogs is to call for the sport to be phased out and we want to see greyhound racing consigned to the past.”
Under the proposed time frame, greyhound racing would be phased out over a five-year period to allow both greyhound authorities and charities to make preparations for welfare and rehoming. Meanwhile, in Wales, where there is just one racetrack, the sport could be ended within one year.
Both Owen Sharp, Dogs Trust Chief Executive, and Chris Burghes, Blue Cross Chief Executive, have stated that their respective charities remain committed to working with the industry to maintain welfare conditions and implement a phased out of the sport.
However, in its own response, the GBGB’s CEO, Mark Bird, and Chair, Jeremy Cooper, described the charities’ call as both ‘ludicrous’ and ‘ill-conceived’, condemning the proposals as ‘the agenda of animal rights executives’.
Defending its record, Bird and Cooper pointed to the the GBGB’s Greyhound Commitment, which has reduced track deaths from 0.06% to 0.03% between 2018 and 2021.
Additionally, Professor Madeleine Campbell, author of the “A Good Life for Every Greyhound” strategy, has called the GBGB’s welfare approach ‘world class’, having been welcomed ‘across the political spectrum’ and informed by input from academics, specialists, vets and animal welfare experts.
In contrast, the professor criticised the RSPCA, Blue Cross and Dogs Trust for failing to publish ‘any information’ about their own internal review, which resulted in the aforementioned conclusions.
Cooper added: “We are fortunate that all the major political parties see through the tactics of the RSPCA, Blue Cross and Dogs Trust and have welcomed our approach to regulation and welfare.
“Their internal review is an amateur exercise in trying to make political capital rather than a data and fact-led approach to welfare. It is sad and disappointing that once respected animal charities have succumbed to the agendas of the extremists.
“Families and individuals who support these charities will be shocked that they are spending the money they donate on pursuing this activist agenda, rather than focusing on the pressing need to protect household pets that owners are unable to afford to keep. It says everything about what is wrong with these charities and nothing about animal welfare.”
In calling for a ban on greyhound racing, the RSPCA, Blue Cross and Dogs Trust joined the Scottish SPCA, one of the leading animal welfare charities in Scotland, which echoed this sentiment back in April.
“It is ludicrous that the agenda of animal rights extremists are being given credence within these charities,” Bird remarked.
“Welfare standards in licensed greyhound racing have improved dramatically over the past four years which is why this report fails to create an evidence-based case for reform.”
“As the sport’s regulator we know there is no room for complacency around welfare, which is why we have built on this through our long-term strategy “A Good Life for Every Greyhound”.
“This has been developed with the input of leading academics and veterinarians and has been welcomed across the political spectrum as a detailed plan for driving forward welfare standards further still.”