The RSPCA – along with Dogs Trust, Blue Cross, Hope Rescue and Greyhound Rescue Wales – has now launched a new campaign, #CutTheChase, to call for an end to greyhound racing in Wales. Supporters are encouraged to call on their five Members of the Senedd to show their support of phasing out greyhound racing and to call on the Welsh Government to act.
Wales is one of only 10 countries in the world where greyhound racing still takes place – alongside England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Vietnam and the USA.
The call for greyhound racing to be phased out in Wales, and across the wider UK, comes following comprehensive internal reviews conducted by the Dogs Trust, RSPCA and Blue Cross. This process highlighted serious concerns at every stage of a racing greyhound’s life including issues around inadequate welfare standards in kennelling and transporting the dogs.
RSPCA head of companion animals in England and Wales, Dr Samantha Gaines, said: “We, along with Dogs Trust and Blue Cross, have been, as part of the Greyhound Forum, working with the greyhound racing industry for many years to try to improve conditions for the dogs involved in the sport.
“While this has led to some improvements, the three charities believe there are still significant welfare issues for racing greyhounds which have not, and cannot, be resolved.
“The charities want to put a stop to the unnecessary and completely preventable deaths of hundreds of dogs every year across the UK.
“We need everyone who cares about greyhound welfare to tell their Members of the Senedd how important this issue is to them. We hope every voice will be heard.”
The five charities behind the campaign want to see an intention to end greyhound racing announced immediately, and expect the phase-out to take around five years to allow the racing industry and animal welfare organisations to carefully plan and coordinate the care of the many dogs affected.
However, in Wales, there is only one greyhound track – an independent, “flapping” racecourse – meaning the phase out period needed will likely be significantly shorter.
In Wales, unlike in England, there are currently no greyhound-specific legal protections for racing greyhounds. However, the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales and Trefnydd has said the future of greyhound racing is something she is looking at “very seriously” – and has asked her officials to look at the feasibility of ending the activity in Wales; boosting hopes that the nation can join a majority of countries in the world where greyhound racing is already not permitted.
The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB)* is the self-regulating organisation that governs licensed greyhound racing in Great Britain. Data from GBGB show that over 2,000 greyhounds died and nearly 18,000 injuries were recorded from greyhound racing between 2018 and 2021**. The Valley greyhound track at Ystrad Mynach is an independent track, not governed by GBGB. Therefore, any dogs that have died or were injured at that track are not included in these figures.
The true number of injuries in Wales is difficult to know, due to there being no vet at the track and no requirement to publish the number of injuries or deaths.
Data from Hope Rescue demonstrates that Wales is, too often, the final stop for unwanted, injured and poorly performing racing greyhounds from Ireland and England. Between 2018 and 2021, Hope Rescue’s Amazing Greys project helped over 200 racing greyhounds. Of these dogs, 40 endured serious, career-ending injuries. These included severe fractures needing significant vet care, amputation or orthopaedic repair.
Chris Sherwood, RSPCA chief executive, added: “It’s shocking that more than one dog a day is dying in the UK 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.
“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.
“While Wales currently does not have any additional legal protections for greyhounds, we’ve been really encouraged by a strong indication from the Welsh Government that they may be prepared to work with the animal welfare sector and act.
“Only 10 countries in the world – including all four UK nations – still allow greyhound racing – and we feel the evidence is clear; and to better protect greyhounds, we need to see this activity phased out in Wales as soon as possible.”