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    Charitable Efforts in the United Kingdom Regarding Greyhound Racing
Charitable Efforts in the United Kingdom Regarding Greyhound Racing
Owner feed his dog. Source: Midjourney

Charitable Efforts in the United Kingdom Regarding Greyhound Racing

Upon witnessing virtual dog races, we might shut down our computer screens post-event and not contemplate the dogs until the following day. If these dogs were mere toys, we'd engage with them briefly before stowing them away until the next playtime. Yet, such a scenario is incompatible with live greyhounds. The typical lifespan of a greyhound is approximately 13-14 years, with their racing career commencing at 15 months and concluding around 4 years of age. Each year, the cohort of retired greyhounds burgeons; they cannot simply be shelved away and dismissed from existence. This presents a significant quandary within the industry that necessitates resolution.

Instances of physical harm inflicted upon retired greyhounds have been documented frequently throughout the annals of British and Irish greyhound racing history. A recent illustrative case occurred in 2022, where the remains of seven greyhounds were unearthed in a marsh in Kildare, Ireland, succumbing to bodily injuries. Dogs deemed too slow are dubbed surplus, a characterisation contested by the Irish contingent of the global animal rights organisation, Greyhound Action, attributing such treatment to cruelty and advocating for accountability.

Greyhound with owner. Source: homes4hounds
Greyhound with owner. Source: homes4hounds

There exists a possibility of additional greyhound burials yet to be uncovered. Furthermore, the practice of euthanising young, unpromising greyhounds persists. Discrepancies in the UK emerge regarding the total number of puppies sourced from Ireland and those bred by UK breeders, as outlined by the preeminent non-profit greyhound welfare organisation, GREY2K USA Worldwide. The arithmetic does not tally—dogs are vanishing.

In October 2022, a parliamentary discourse ensued in Scotland concerning greyhound welfare, contemplating a complete ban on racing. Startling statistics surfaced: Shawfield Racecourse alone documented 197 dog injuries and 15 fatalities between 2017 and 2020. Over the span of 2017 to 2022, there were upwards of 22,000 racing-related greyhound injuries across the UK, resulting in at least a thousand fatalities.

RSPSA activities in the early 20th century. Source:  RSPSA
RSPSA activities in the early 20th century. Source: RSPSA

Instances such as these underscore the industry's predicament, highlighting the unethical, inhumane treatment perpetuated by irresponsible individuals. A different, compassionate approach must be embraced, grounded in the ethos of humane treatment towards all life forms. Post-retirement from sporting pursuits, greyhounds deserve the opportunity to reside within human households as cherished companions. The Green Party in Scotland ardently advocates for shuttering Scotland's racetracks, proposing a more radical remedy to the issue. 

Uri Geller with his greyhound. Source: greyhoundtrust
Uri Geller with his greyhound. Source: greyhoundtrust

Animal Welfare Initiatives in the United Kingdom

Established in 1924, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) stands as the world's oldest animal welfare charity. It has played a pivotal role in inspiring the formation of similar organisations across Scotland, Ireland, America, New Zealand, Singapore, and Australia. With 17 centres and 42 branches throughout the UK, RSPCA volunteers diligently attend to animals in distress, providing them with care, treatment, and facilitating their placement into loving homes. Furthermore, the RSPCA holds the authority to pursue private prosecution in cases of animal cruelty, supported by its dedicated legal and veterinary departments. Visit RSPCA

The UK-based charity, Greyhound Trust, has been operating since 1975, successfully securing over 100,000 foster homes for retired greyhounds. Boasting an extensive network of branches nationwide and approximately 1,000 volunteers, the organisation facilitates the adoption of around 3,500 dogs annually. Notable public figures, including celebrities, athletes, and writers, actively participate in the adoption programme, fostering a diverse and caring community of pet owners.

BLUE CROSS, founded in 1897, initially focused on the welfare of working horses in London's streets. Today, its efforts are dedicated to providing veterinary care, finding shelters for homeless animals, and offering psychological and advisory support to individuals coping with pet loss.

Greyhounds in foster care. Source: alfiesdreamforgreyhounds
Greyhounds in foster care. Source: alfiesdreamforgreyhounds

Additionally, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) serves as the primary regulatory body for greyhound racing in the UK. While its core objectives revolve around industry development and management, GBGB also operates a pension scheme initiated in 2020. Dog owners are required to contribute £400 upon registration, with these funds allocated towards the retired greyhound's upkeep in a shelter. GBGB collaborates with numerous organisations nationwide to ensure each registered greyhound transitions to a kennel where efforts are made to find it a loving home. Learn more about GBGB

In October 2022, a coalition comprising RSPCA, Greyhound Trust, and Blue Cross united in advocating for the phasing out of greyhound racing in Britain. They believe this bold step could effectively address animal suffering associated with races. Whether proponents of the sport will endorse this approach or propose viable alternatives remains to be seen.

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