APGAW Report Highly Critical Of Greyhound Racing The Associate Parliamentary Group For Animal Welfare, (APGAW) has today concluded a nine month long inquiry into the welfare of Greyhounds with a damming report criticising the regulation of greyhound racing in the UK.
APGAW is hugely critical of the National Greyhound Racing Club, (NGRC) saying there are enormous gaps in industry records and calling it a matter of extreme priority for the industry to improve its tracking of dogs.
The inquiry was set up in August 2006 following a Sunday Times article about the killing and burial of up to 10,000 retired Greyhounds over a 15 year period by a builders merchant, in Seaham, County Durham.
Approximately 75 per cent of dogs racing in England were bred in Ireland. The report says that between 2002 and 2004, an average of 2,478 British bred dogs were earmarked by the NGRC but never made it to NGRC tracks. There will be a much larger number of dogs, says APGAW, that are bred in Ireland to supply the British market but are never registered for NGRC racing.
A small number of these young dogs may go on to race only on independent tracks and a number may be rehomed. However, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, APGAW says it must be assumed that a significant number of them are destroyed each year.
The issue of what happens to young Greyhounds who do not make it to the track remains a serious area of concern to members of the inquiry.
Greyhound racing is divided into two sectors ? one which is supposed to be regulated by the NGRC and one which consists of unregulated independent tracks.
APGAW provides us with some figures about the racing industry:
Approximately 11,000 Greyhounds are registered in any given year to race on licensed (NGRC) tracks. Fewer than 4,000 dogs race on independent tracks, (in England and Wales). Many dogs, contrary to NGRC rules, may race on both NGRC and independent tracks. One independent track estimated that this may amount to 20 per cent of their dogs. Up to 800 Greyhounds therefore may be racing on both NGRC and independent tracks.
Approximately 11,000 NGRC registered Greyhounds leave racing each year. There is an additional number of dogs that retire from independent tracks but no reliable figures exist for this.
The report says the regulated Greyhound racing industry produces, at a minimum, a 'surplus' of 13,478 dogs in England and Wales each year, with additional unwanted dogs produced by the independent sector.
The Retired Greyhound Trust, (RGT) rehomes approximately 3,500 dogs per year and independent charities may rehome an additional 1,500. Up to 3,000 dogs may be retained as pets or kept in kennels.
759 Greyhounds were listed as returned to Ireland on NGRC retirement forms in 2005. However, it is not possible for the NGRC to check this information and it may be that some of these dogs may have been destroyed rather than returned to Ireland.
Doing the maths:
APGAW concludes that a minimum of 4,728 dogs are unaccounted for each year and we can assume that the majority of these dogs are destroyed. However, this figure does not account for dogs from independent racing or those which are bred for the British racing industry in Ireland. The report says these figures are likely to be a significant underestimation of the true scale of the problem of unwanted dogs being destroyed.
The full 48 page report goes on to make dozens of recommendations of improvements needed within the greyhound racing industry. Defra has plans to introduce secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Act relating to greyhound racing in England - to come into effect by April of 2009. APGAW has put its recommendations to Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government and to regulators, dog breeders, trainers, bookies and all others involved in greyhound racing and greyhound welfare.