Calls made to cease racing at greyhound track after latest safety concerns
A coalition of animal welfare organisations has urged the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) to immediately cease racing and trials at Ystrad Mynach’s Valley Greyhound Stadium following dog welfare fears at a recent event.
The call comes from the Blue Cross, Dogs Trust, Greyhound Rescue Wales, Hope Rescue and the RSPCA – following the first event to take place at the stadium since its remit fell under GBGB’s auspices.
Previously, the Valley Stadium was a ‘flapping’ or independent track – but is now regulated by GBGB, and is Wales’ last remaining greyhound racing course.
Concerns from the coalition have been raised in an open letter to GBGB, following sales trials that took place at the track on 22 August – just days before the industry marked the recently-finished ‘National Greyhound Week’ (28 August to 3 September).
Information shared with the coalition, and observations from a live stream, has prompted fear that dogs were at significant risk of serious injury during the event.
At least two dogs were carried off the track, with one dog – ‘Know the Danger’ – reportedly seriously injured and withdrawn from sale after a collision.
Numerous dogs also struggled to keep their footing, ran into each other, or hit the wall – which is extremely close to the hare and has no padding.
There are concerns that the design of the track – including a long run up to the first sharp bend – amplifies the risk to dogs competing.
In the open letter, the coalition says: “Members of the coalition have, for many years, been raising concerns about the safety of this racetrack and once again, the track has proven these concerns to be more than justified.
“The coalition’s fears as to the fate of future dogs racing on the track are shared also by some in the racing industry with suggestions that the racetrack is unsuitable for larger dogs and six dog races.
“Given these issues, we are urging GBGB to cease all trials and racing at the Valleys until the welfare of all dogs can be better protected and that, as an absolute minimum, the racetrack is redesigned to significantly reduce the risks of death and serious injury.”
The coalition supports the phasing out of greyhound racing to protect dog welfare – and has welcomed moves from the Welsh Government to consult on its future, including an option to phase out greyhound racing in Wales.
Earlier this year, the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, who is responsible for animal welfare in Wales – confirmed to Senedd Members that she had responded to a recent Petitions Committee report, which saw a majority of the committee back phasing out the activity in Wales.
The Minister confirmed she has accepted, or accepted in principle, all recommendations from the Committee – bar one.
Recommendations supported in principle by the Minister include “that Welsh Government action should include a phased ban on greyhound racing in Wales” – with the Welsh Government confirming it will consult on options including phasing out the activity in Wales.
The open letter added that: “Events during this auction have added further weight to the coalition’s position that the only way to protect the welfare of racing greyhounds in Wales is to phase out the industry.
“We will be making this case to the Welsh Government as part of their consultation scheduled for later this year, but while racing continues in Wales, we want to do everything to ensure better welfare outcomes for the dogs involved.”
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