Thursday 28 September 2023

Greyhound racing - dogs deserve better than to be put at risk in the name of 'sport'

A night at the dogs… a traditional evening of eating, drinking, maybe a little wager on a winner, watching excited greyhounds chase round a track after an artificial prey that they never catch.

Fun? Or cruel, exploitative and potentially fatal for the Greyhounds?

There are only 10 countries in the world where Greyhound racing takes place legally, and four of those are in the UK. It is a minority interest activity, with research showing that 91% of the British public don’t follow or participate in Greyhound racing (source YouGov poll).

So it would seem that only a few people enjoy a ‘sport’ that causes thousands of injuries to the dogs that are bred for racing and have no choice but to participate (22,284 from 2018 to 2022). Sadly there are many fatalities too: in fact, 2,392 in the same time period. The average age of a racing Greyhound is 2-3 years.

Greyhounds are sighthounds – a type of hound with amazing vision, bred to run fast and with a hunting instinct, so it would seem that they are naturally adapted to racing. However, there is nothing natural about running on a curved track at speed, in close proximity to up to five other dogs. The conditions are inherently dangerous, as running on a curve puts unnecessary pressure on their bodies meaning a high risk of injury to their left fore-leg and right hind-leg. With the curve of the track and the uneven forces on their bodies as they run at up to 45mph, the dogs have no option but to slow down or run wider on bends, and this can cause fatal collisions to happen. A study in New Zealand found that 68% of injuries and 75% of fatalities occurred on or approaching the first bend of the track. Some tracks have moved to using sand instead of grass to increase running speed even more.

Greyhounds enjoying energetic play

Greyhounds are by nature gentle and make good family pets when correctly socialised. However, concerns remain around the conditions that racing Greyhounds are kept in from puppyhood. Their kennelling, care standards, lack of socialisation and exercise may all be inadequate. Dogs are only suitable to race for a limited time, then as they age they became superfluous and require rehoming, rehabilitation and medical treatment. Many do not receive this and are inhumanely destroyed.

It would be impractical to ban or close down the industry overnight as thousands of Greyhounds would become homeless and may be unnecessarily euthanised. However, charities such as the Blue Cross are campaigning to bring Greyhound racing to an end over a five year period, so that dog welfare organisations can support the requirement to find Greyhounds suitable loving homes and owners, where they can be safely rehabilitated.

Organisations such as Seaside Greyhounds already exist. It helps retired greyhounds to be re-homed into suitable loving environments with patient owners who can offer them the chance to socialise and live out their retirement happily.

Let’s hope that legislation changes for the better, to give Greyhounds better lives in the future, without fear of injury in the name of sport.

No comments:

Post a Comment