Greyhound and lurcher welfare
GRWE actively works to improve the welfare of racing greyhounds, both during their racing careers and, crucially, at their retirement. It is our wish that one day no greyhound will simply be abandoned or killed just because it quite literally no longer earns its keep. Additionally there are a great many greyhound cross-breeds, often bred for working, whose fate is also uncertain once they are deemed to be of no use anymore.
Billy, a greyhound x saluki lurcher who had been used for hunting, is an example of a dog who came to us in a terrible state. No longer of any use, he had been starved and so savagely beaten that his spine was fractured in several places and he was left to die. But this brave dog did not give up. Billy survived and was rescued by GRWE. We immediately launched a medical emergency appeal to raise the funds needed for the specialist corrective surgery to his spine. Our supporters were wonderful and donations flooded in. Looking at him now, it is hard to believe he's the same dog as the one we first saw so ruthlessly broken in both body and spirit. Here is a video of Billy and his journey back to the happy dog he is now.
GRWE is a member of the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes and sits on the UK Greyhound Forum.
Racing Greyhound Welfare
Around 9,000 greyhounds begin their racing careers at one of the 25 licensed GBGB* tracks in the UK every year. The vast majority (80%) of these greyhounds are bred in Ireland. The average age of a greyhound upon retirement is about 3 ½ years after competing in around 50 races. Greyhounds live to approximatey 14 years of age. Length of career, however, varies greatly and is often brought to an abrupt end through injury.
Sadly, the desire for only the highest performing dogs leads to massive overbreeding - 20,000 puppies are bred in Ireland every year. Many thousands of greyhound puppies never even make it to the tracks; either because they are not fast enough or because they do not have the chase instinct. Many of these puppies are simply destroyed as they are deemed surplus to requirements.
Approximately 9,000 greyhounds retire from racing each year. Responsible owners/trainers will keep their dogs as pets or find them a home through rehoming organisations such as GRWE. But this only accounts for some of the greyhounds retiring. It is estimated that approximately 3,000* greyhounds in the UK and 7,000 greyhounds in Ireland seemingly disappear without a trace every year and are presumed destroyed.
GRWE is very concerned with the welfare of racing greyhounds both during and after their racing days and is handling an increasing number of welfare cases where dogs have been given away free to unsuitable homes to offload them as cheaply and as quickly as possible to avoid breach of Rule18*** or found abandoned abandoned in dog pounds throughout the UK. GRWE is actively highlighting these issues at the UK Greyhound Forum. The Greyhound Forum (formed in 1994) is chaired by the Dogs Trust and is made up of both industry members and welfare representatives who meet twice a year to discuss welfare issues.
*The National Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC) and the British Greyhound Racing Board (BGRB) were amalgamated in January 2009 to form the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB).
** AGPAW report (see below)
***Rule 18: Under its Rule 18, the GBGB sets out the responsibilities of Greyhound owners who run their dogs on GBGB registered tracks. It includes the requirement to make acceptable arrangements for a retired Greyhound as follows:
· The Greyhound be retained as a pet, or
· the Greyhound be boarded at a Licensed Kennel, or
· the Greyhound be boarded at a Kennel licensed by the local authority, or
· the Greyhound be found a home through the Retired Greyhound Trust or the Greyhound be sold or found a home, responsibly, or
· if it is necessary for the Greyhound to be euthanased either on humane grounds or because none of the above options are available, the Owner ensuring, subject to Rule 58, that such euthanasia is carried out by a registered Veterinary Surgeon.
Racing Greyhounds Defra Consultation Paper
Defra are currently consulting on proposals to promote the welfare of racing greyhounds. The consultation opened on 30 April and will close on 22 July. Further details on the proposals and how to respond to the consultation can be found on the Defra website.
These proposals have been introduced in response to the concerns expressed by Parliament during the debates about the welfare of racing greyhounds in the Animal Welfare Bill.
Racing Greyhound Welfare Reports
Over recent years there have been a number of formal reports and inquiries into greyhound racing welfare both by independent welfare organisations and the greyhound racing industry, which give more insight into the issues surrounding this area.
The Donoughue Report
This report was commissioned by the racing industry to investigate the regulation of the greyhound industry November 2007. Click here for the full report.
The APGAW Report on The Welfare of Greyhounds
Inquiry into the welfare issues surrounding racing greyhounds in England by the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) in May 2007. Click here for the full report.
All Party Group for Animal Welfare (Wales) in association with Greyhound Rescue Wales
A survey of greyhound and lurchers entering local pounds in Wales and the fate of racing greyhound and working lurchers in Wales, October 2003. Click here for the full report.
The Charter for the Racing Greyhound, May 2002
The 16-point plan produced by the Greyhound Forum which aims to encourage best practice in the industry and covers a wide range of racing greyhound welfare issues. Click here for the full report.
Welfare, Awareness and Campaigning organisations:
Greyhound Campaigning organisations:
The Animal Welfare Act 2006
The Animal Welfare Act came into force on 28th March 2007 in Wales and on 6th April 2007 in England. This means that from these dates all those who are responsible for greyhounds owe a duty of care to take reasonable steps to provide for their welfare needs. Click here for full details.
Frequently Asked Questions
We have put together answer to questions we are often asked, please click here to download a copy.
GRWE Welfare contact:
Julie Sanders, email@example.com