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    Dog Doping Scandal You Don’t Even Want to Believe In
Dog Doping Scandal You Don’t Even Want to Believe In
Greyhound dog on doping. Source: Greyhoundcoalition.com

Dog Doping Scandal You Don’t Even Want to Believe In

In March 2023, the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission recommended against the creation of additional greyhound tracks in Scotland, citing animal welfare concerns.

Will Dog Racing Be Banned?

A recent report from the commission (SAWC) has highlighted that an ideal scenario would involve the absence of any organised greyhound racing in Scotland. However, despite the demands for a ban, dog racing will persist at the sole remaining Scottish track in Thornton, Fife.

SAWC investigated the sport of greyhound racing in Scotland after uncovering shocking statistics. Over three years, from 2018 to 2021, a total of 2,412 greyhounds lost their lives, while 17,930 registered racing greyhounds suffered from various recorded injuries.

Animal welfare organisations have expressed their approval of the report, which is believed to be the most extensive examination of dog racing in Scotland in many years. However, they have once again urged the Scottish Government to eliminate what they perceive as a "cruel sport gradually."

The Greyhound Board of Great Britain expressed its disappointment with specific SAWC findings and criticised organisations that oppose greyhound racing for spreading misleading, inaccurate, and unsupported information.

The report responds to the concerns raised by animal welfare organisations and a series of articles by The Ferret that shed light on doping scandals and the unfortunate incidents of greyhound deaths and injuries.

The Ferret has uncovered that Shawfield Stadium in Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire, experienced a total of 15 fatalities and 197 injuries between 2017 and 2020.

Greyhound steroids. Source: Grey2K USA
Greyhound steroids. Source: Grey2K USA

The Use of Illegal Drugs Is Nothing New

In 2019, it came to light that greyhounds had repeatedly tested positive for prohibited substances like cocaine and amphetamine at Shawfield.

Other banned substances, such as steroids, beta-blockers, and prohormones, were discovered in the bloodstreams of greyhounds commonly used by bodybuilders.

Out of the 28 positive tests, five were related to cocaine, a substance that can be extremely dangerous for dogs, potentially causing seizures, strokes, and heart attacks.

After conducting its inquiry, SAWC determined that Scotland will not allow any additional greyhound tracks to be established. The report stated that the current proposed measures are insufficient to ensure the appropriate welfare of greyhounds. It emphasised the belief that this would contribute to the reduction of suffering in Scotland.

The report also suggested that greyhound racing at Thornton, in Fife, should only proceed under the condition that a veterinarian is present during races and that any injuries are promptly reported. Thornton's ongoing functioning will be reassessed after three to five years.

Mark Ruskell MSP, a proud greyhound owner and member of the Scottish Greens, expressed his appreciation for the report, stating that it represents a significant advancement in the ongoing discussion surrounding greyhound welfare.

"It is commendable that the commission has advocated for a halt in the construction of additional racetracks and has acknowledged the significant animal welfare issues that plague the sport," Ruskell commented. 

“Today's report affirms that this heartless industry is nearing its end. It is high time to end greyhound racing to prevent further harm to these innocent dogs.”

Greyhound on doping. Source: ABC
Greyhound on doping. Source: ABC

The Mistreatment of Greyhounds Is Also in the Spotlight

Bob Elliot, the director of OneKind, an animal welfare charity, highlighted the issue of doping scandals and the inhumane treatment of greyhounds in racing. He emphasised that once these dogs are no longer profitable for trainers, they may be euthanized for economic reasons.

He stated: "The overwhelming backing for the discontinuation of greyhound racing from animal welfare organisations, grassroots groups, and the Scottish public is evident. The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission has thoroughly documented the extensive range of welfare hazards in the industry. The Scottish Government must prioritise listening and committing to phasing out this inhumane industry in Scotland."

Mark Bird, the CEO of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, expressed his support for greyhound racing by highlighting the shared objective of his organisation and SAWC in safeguarding and advancing the welfare of greyhounds in Scotland. He emphasised the key to achieving success in this endeavour: implementing robust and efficient regulation. He highlighted his collaboration with Holyrood officials to assist Thornton, which currently needs more regulation, in obtaining the necessary licensing.

“Within our jurisdiction, racing greyhounds are provided with significantly greater safeguards compared to household pets. We enforce more than 200 Regulations that govern individuals involved in the sport. These Regulations include the mandatory presence of a veterinary surgeon before, during, and after any racing event. We also set rigorous standards for the care of greyhounds at tracks, during transportation, and in trainers' residential kennels',” - Bird explained.

He expressed his disappointment that the advocacy from groups against racing had influenced SAWC's final report, where personal stories took precedence over factual information, precision, and openness. Nonetheless, we will persist in collaborating with members and officials in Holyrood to advocate for increased regulation, as we firmly believe it is in the best interests of racing greyhounds.

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