Management / Bookmakers ‘must be made to pay towards the welfare of greyhounds’

Bookmakers ‘must be made to pay towards the welfare of greyhounds’

Bookmakers must be made to pay towards the welfare of greyhounds, a committee has said, amid concerns for the welfare of thousands of retired racing dogs.

greyhounds (PA)

MPs called on the industry to pump more cash into looking after the animals, which often face being put down once they stop competing, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said.

It called for the introduction of a levy on all bookmakers who profit from greyhound racing that would go towards improving welfare standards.

Neil Parish, chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said: “All racing greyhounds should enjoy high welfare standards both during their racing career and retirement.

“Bookmakers who profit from greyhound racing should contribute to welfare standards regardless of whether the profits are from high-street stores, online or overseas betting.

“The welfare of racing greyhounds shouldn’t be at the whim of bookmakers who can simply choose to contribute or not. The Government should consider introducing a statutory levy or an alternative betting rights model to protect animal welfare.”

MPs were told that between 1,000 and 3,700 dogs are unaccounted for each year.

Although some may have stayed with their owners others may have been killed, according to the report.

It urged the industry to be more transparent about the destiny of retired racers.

Labour’s Jim Fitzpatrick, a member of the committee, said: “We simply do not know what is happening to all greyhounds after they finish racing. If the destruction of healthy dogs is happening on a large scale it is clear that the industry should bear a greater financial responsibility for funding rehomed greyhounds. We want to see that all efforts are being made to re-home these animals at the end of their racing lives.”

League Against Cruel Sports chief executive officer Eduardo Goncalves said: “There are huge concerns about greyhound welfare that need to be addressed. Many of the dogs suffer a hard and lonely life, forced to train on treadmills and kept apart from other dogs.

“According to the industry’s own figures, over 2,000 dogs were injured in the last three recorded years, and over 1,000 were euthanised. Is anyone watching closely enough to ensure that these figures are accurate, and that the dogs are being treated respectfully? Do the report’s recommendations go far enough to solve these problems? We think there’s some way to go.”

A spokesman for the Association of British Bookmakers said: “As the committee rightly notes, 90% of betting shops contribute to the British Greyhound Racing Fund – contributions which come to £7 million a year. We will continue to support this important work.

“In addition, it is important to recognise that high street betting shops also contribute over £27 million to greyhound racing in the form of media rights a year, and a further £1 million in sponsorship and prize money.”

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said: “We are a nation of dog lovers and care deeply about their welfare, which is why all tracks in England must be run in line with the Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations which include the compulsory attendance of a vet and the microchipping of all greyhounds to ensure greater traceability.

“Enforcement of these regulations is the responsibility of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain or relevant local authority, however we recently undertook a consultation as part of a review of these regulations.”


Photo from Owen Humphreys / PA Wire

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