Greyhound racing facts.
At the present time there are 25 Greyhound tracks, which operate under Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) rules. In the year 2000 there were 5,280 British Greyhounds registered.
In the same year there were 20,002 Irish Greyhounds registered.
There are people in the industry that can remember a time when there were 2 meetings held in a week with eight races run at those meetings.
Last year (2000) 5,643 meetings were held and the total races run was 67,837.
There is no restriction in the GBGB rulebook on the number of races that can be run.
Approximately 10,000 dogs are discarded by the racing industry every year. This is the figure the industry is prepared to state. The same number probably leave the independent tracks, although it would appear that, on those tracks, the dogs have a chance of lasting longer. There are no records of any kind, on either sort of track, on the length of a dog's racing career. When a dog leaves an GBGB track it leaves the GBGB consciousness.
There are no records kept of dogs that are destroyed during the schooling period or of the number of dogs destroyed during their racing career.
There are no records kept of injuries incurred while on the track.
There are no records kept of the number of Greyhounds that are abandoned by their owners, picked up by dog wardens, and finish up in all sorts of rescue kennels, from the excellent Dogs Trust to council dog pounds where they live an extra seven miserable days. Some tracks run rehoming schemes as an extension of the Retired Greyhound Trust but the quality inevitably varies as this is voluntary work and they are given minimal support by the Trust.
The Trust was set up in 1974. It is described officially as the GBGB Retired Greyhound Trust. The British Greyhound Racing Board has stated in the Racing Post that the Trust is under its control. Whichever body actually controls it; it has always been under-funded and operated on a totally unrealistic basis. The GBGB has stated that it never expected any more that eighty dogs to be looking for rehoming at any one time. The charity, at the moment, is under orders to take only one hundred and twenty into kennels at any time. Our information is that any owner asking for his dog to be rehomed is being told there is a six months waiting list.
The Charity claims to have rehomed 2,200 dogs last year but that figure also includes dogs that were, in fact, rehomed by voluntary rescue kennels and the efforts of members of the public.
The priority of the Greyhound racing industry, as operated by the GBGB is a guaranteed, constant supply of dogs to race.
- The promoters supply the tracks.
- The owners pay to supply the dogs.
- Some trainers own dogs to ensure their retainer, paid by the track, to supply the requisite number of dogs.
The stipendiary stewards, who inspect the kennels and conditions of welfare for the dogs, are picked and paid by the industry, they are aware of the priority.
The vets, who are responsible for the fitness of a dog to run, are paid by the industry and are often inexperienced, junior members of a veterinary practice. They are not qualified to judge the condition of a track but are expected to do so. Evidence has been given by vets of "persuasion" to declare a track safe against their better judgement.
The GBGB, the controlling watchdog of the industry, has made rules, which it implements to serve its priority. Trainers who withdraw dogs from a race because the rate of injuries that night suggests the track is dangerous are heavily fined. Owners who are proved to have abandoned their dogs with no thought for their well-being are rarely, if ever, disciplined.
It would suggest that bookmakers have made it clear what the priority should be and, of course, the industry is faced with a conflict of interest. Although Rule 18 clearly states that an owner is responsible for the welfare of his/her dog when it has finished racing, if it disciplines an owner it runs the risk of losing future runners.
The GBGB is a self-appointing body and there is no time limit on length of service, as far as we know. It is accountable to no one but serves the interests of the bookmakers assiduously.
The British Greyhound Racing Board is largely made up of promoters and bookmakers. The promoters subscribe a negligible amount of their profits to the welfare of the dogs. The bookmakers contribute nothing. (Having said that, there are individual bookmakers at the tracks who recognise the debt they owe to the dogs.)
Corals published profits of £132,000,000 for the year ended April 2001.
Some bookmakers own tracks.
The RSPCA and the Dogs Trust have made recommendations, which have been ignored.
The Home Affairs Committee made recommendations in 1991, which have been ignored.
All the calls for change from inside the industry have been ignored.
Profits have increased and are certain to escalate with Internet betting.
Prize money has stayed at the same level for the last twenty years.
There is no independent authority to address with questions, complaints or criticism.
The Home Office still maintains the industry is capable of regulating itself - In whose interests?
How much is the Government going to make in tax from the industry?
On a GBGB track a Greyhound begins racing at eighteen months. The average racing life of the dog will be eighteen months. From then on the dog is a hostage to fortune.