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Action for greyhounds

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare has this week called on  the Government to regulate the greyhound racing industry.

The Group produced a damning report on the welfare of racing greyhounds after a 6 month inquiry following the case of David Smith from County Durham who slaughtered ex-racing greyhounds for £10 per dog at the request of some racing owners.

The report exposed shocking welfare concerns and a lack of industry records or safeguards for the dogs that generate a whopping £2.9 billion in betting each year.

Since the debate earlier this year on the Animal Welfare Bill, the Government has pledged to improve the regulation of the greyhound racing industry after concerns were expressed.  New arrangements should be in place by 2009 and will provide further protection for racing greyhounds.

Approximately 11,000 greyhounds are registered with the National Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC) to race each year.  There is also an unregulated independent track for greyhound racing for which there are varying estimations about the exact number of dogs involved.

Greyhounds have only a short racing life. Once they reach 3½ to 5 years old — out of a natural lifespan of about 12 to 14 years — they are considered too slow to compete.

Some don’t even make it to the track.  Between 2002 and 2004 nearly 2,500 British bred dogs were earmarked by the NGRC but never made it to the official tracks. Some of them went on to race only on independent tracks and a number were re-homed. However it can be also assumed that a significant number of these dogs were destroyed.

Over 13,000 greyhounds become unwanted dogs each year. Some of them are re-homed by independent charities, some are kept as pets.  However, a minimum 4,700 dogs are unaccounted each year and it is assumed that the majority of them are destroyed.  This is not including dogs from independent racing.

Regulation is essential.  There is simply no justification for abandoning or killing these animals simply because they can't do their job any more.

David McDowell of the RSPCA says "This report unveils a woeful inadequacy of knowledge within the industry about the very thing its success relies on - the greyhound dog".