FIVE CALLOUS killers in Wales are killing hundreds of healthy racing Greyhounds every year and making a tidy income form the proceeds, according to a Greyhound rescue group – but their killing days may soon be over.
Campaigners at Greyhound Rescue Wales say they know the identities of the ‘executioners’ and have passed their names to the RSPCA, which has pledged to investigate the practise of destroying dogs that are no longer able to compete in races for whatever reason.
While the killings are widely regarded as immoral, they are not necessarily illegal. Since 1997, anyone can own a bolt gun to kill animals without a licence but can be prosecuted if the animals are put down inhumanely.
Alain Thomas, founder of Greyhound Rescue Wales, said: "About 500 dogs are meeting some kind of unacceptable fate here every year. GRW has been given the names of five individuals who are responsible for killing the dogs. These individuals buy large quantities of dogs from the registered sector, trial them discreetly, then keep the fastest and best one or two dogs in each batch. They dispose of the other three or four by shooting them and incinerating the bodies."
GRW also claims the killers make an extra living out of putting down other people’s greyhounds and lurchers at around £10 a time.
Mr Thomas said: "They make money from charging other owners to shoot and incinerate their unwanted dogs. This has led to the establishment of an informal but well organised and commercially-based system to shoot and incinerate Greyhounds."
A report produced by the Welsh Assembly in 2003 found Wales was a dumping ground for dogs no longer fast enough to race on registered tracks in England.
Lorraine Barrett AM, who chairs the Assembly’s All Party Animal Welfare Group, said: "I have no time at all for anyone who is prepared to shoot a dog just because it is no longer needed for racing. I would like to see those people prosecuted.
"The Animal Welfare Act, which will come into effect at the end of the year, will mean that greyhound tracks will all have to have a vet in attendance. I doubt very much whether they will be able to survive having to pay to have a vet on site.
"There is an issue about what will happen to greyhound racing in Wales. A lot of people would like to see an end to it. In a perfect world I would not like to see any animal used for entertainment. However I would like to see it regulated rather than go underground."
A spokesman for the RSPCA, which says 12,000 Greyhounds disappear and are unaccounted for every year in the UK, said they would be "looking into the matter" of killings in Wales.