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NGRC and dogs trust launch greyhound welfare initiative

THE NATIONAL Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC) has agreed an arrangement with the leading UK dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust in a bid to improve its monitoring of the rehoming of retired racing greyhounds.

The agreement is intended to provide extra security to protect the welfare of Greyhounds in the racing industry, ensuring they are retired in the appropriate manner and cared for once their career comes to an end.

The NGCR came under fire earlier this the year, when the Associate Parliamentary Group For Animal Welfare, (APGAW) reported ‘enormous gaps’ in Greyhound Industry records and called it a 'matter of extreme priority' for the industry to improve its tracking of dogs. The inquiry into the welfare of racing greyhounds was prompted by the revelations in 2006 that David Smith, a builder from Seaham, County Durham, was killing unwanted ex-racing dogs for £10.

Despite strenuous protests from Lord Lipsey Chairman of the British Greyhound Racing Board that the Industry could tackle the situation, the then Minister for Animal Affairs, Ben Bradshaw, indicated that the Industry’s self-regulation was not working and that some form of stricter control was required, a conclusion reached by the inquiry.

The NGRC says most owners do act responsibly and make suitable arrangements for their retired Greyhounds either by taking them home as pets, or organising re-homing through welfare organisations.

The agreement with Dogs Trust, says the NGRC, is a part of its commitment to working with mainstream welfare groups to collect information and identify Greyhound owners who act irresponsibly.

Under its Rule 18, the NGRC sets out the responsibilities of Greyhound owners who run their dogs on NGRC 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.

The caveat, Rule 58, declares that euthanasia must be carried out under veterinary supervision.. ‘unless in the Veterinary Surgeon's absence immediate euthanasia is obviously essential.’

NGRC Chief Executive, Alistair McLean said: ‘We are very pleased to have reached this agreement with Dogs Trust and to progress our common interest of improving Greyhound welfare. Our ownership education programme is proving successful and this is one particular initiative which will help us to build upon our work. We would welcome similar agreements with other re-homing organisations.’

Clarissa Baldwin, Chief Executive, Dogs Trust added: ‘We are pleased to have come to a more formal agreement with the NGRC. The flow of data will enable them to further enforce their Rule 18 which will be a positive move for Greyhound welfare. We recognise that welfare organisations have a part to play and I am hopeful that members of the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes will also participate in this information gathering and we will be discussing this at our forthcoming meeting.’

The NGRC/Dogs Trust initiative was met with scepticism by Greyhound welfare groups. Tony Peters, UK Co-ordinator of Greyhound Action told OUR DOGS: ‘Sadly, this agreement will do little or nothing to halt the mass-slaughter of greyhounds.

‘Every year 15,000 of these dogs, bred for the British greyhound racing industry, are deemed unsuitable for racing and put to death without ever running on the tracks. These unfortunate greyhounds don't even get a chance to be found homes.

‘To these must be added the 3,000 plus retired greyhounds that the British Greyhound Racing Board admits are put to death annually, once their racing days are over.

‘According to our research, the total number of greyhounds (failed racers and ex-racers) put down every year because of the British dog racing industry amounts to about 20,000.

‘This is why we are calling on the public to boycott greyhound racing - don't go to it or bet on it -so that this appalling death-industry fades away through lack of financial support.

‘We feel that Dogs Trust could better help the greyhounds by joining us in this boycott call, rather than giving undeserved credibility to the racing industry by entering into this ‘arrangement’ with the NGRC.’