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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October, 2003, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Shock report on greyhound cruelty
Karen Thomas, Lorraine Barrett and Eddy
Campaigners Karen Thomas and Lorraine Barrett with rescued greyhound Eddy
A shock report is calling for new laws to protect as many as 600 greyhounds a year in Wales killed or discarded after their racing career is over.

In Wales, up to a further 1800 lurchers, the smaller type of greyhound crossbreed, may be discarded after their sporting career reaches its peak

The hard facts are spelled out in a report entitled The Fate of Racing Greyhounds and Working Lurchers in Wales, produced by an all party group of AMs in the Welsh assembly and animal protection organisations.

The chair of the all-party group, Lorraine Barrett AM, said: "This report is based on sound statistical information gleaned from local authorities and gives us the ammunition we need to tackle the terrible truth we have suspected for a number of years.

"We must now do something to prevent these large numbers of greyhounds being either killed or abandoned when their use of sporting dogs is over."

Tax on bookies

In the big money world of dog racing, the bookies rake in over 2bn from the popular sport, but little goes back into caring. for dogs, many of whom are retired aged four but have another 10 years of active life left.

The League Against Cruel Sports is demanding a tax on bookies and says that a levy of only 1p in every pound would help pay for the animals welfare when they retire.

Alain Thomas, of Greyhound Rescue Wales, said: "We now have hard facts which will force the greyhound industry to face up to its responsibilities. It costs 230 to take care of each abandoned dog in a local authority pound."

His organisation wish to see the industry putting its hand in its pocket to help fund the care and the finding of new homes for greyhounds, and these pressure groups are now calling on the government to include the protection of greyhounds in its forthcoming Animal Welfare Bill.

A levy could bring in 20m a year to help organisations such as Greyhound Rescue Wales to help find homes for the discarded dogs.

Over 30,000 Greyhounds are bred for racing each year in Britain and Ireland. Those that are retired from registered tracks have a chance of being helped by the Greyhound Trust.

Greyhounds are abandoned when their working life is over
However, many leave the registered tracks to continue racing on the independent tracks, there are three of these in Wales, where there are few regulations to safeguard them while they are racing or when they retire.

After a short career on the independent circuit, many dogs face a terrible end. While some owners who race dogs on these tracks keep them as pets when they retire from racing, others dispose of by other means.

They may be abandoned to fend for themselves and starve to death, be put down by a vet, killed by the owner or rescued while abandoned by organisation such as Greyhound Rescue Wales, says the all-party report.

The report calls on the Welsh assembly and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to take action including:

  • drafting legislation to tackle the problem

  • forcing the independent greyhound industry to make proper provision for dogs on their retirement

  • give local authorities greater powers to act as watchdogs.

    RSPCA spokesman David MacDowell said: "There is no justification for abandoning or killing these animals simply because they can't do their job any more.

    "An animal should be an owner's responsibility for life, not just until they have reached the end of their usefulness."

    Homes sought for retired racers
    16 Sep 03  |  Northamptonshire
    Bookies urged to pay out for dogs
    29 Sep 03  |  Politics
    Greyhound graveyard
    04 Dec 01  |  Kenyon Confronts

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