RSPCA, Other UK Charities Call to End Greyhound Racing

  • A joint Twitter campaign to ban greyhound racing supported the charities’ statement 
  • GBGB claims the charities’ announcement reveals “the true agenda of animal rights extremists”
  • Charities said over 2,000 greyhounds died from racing between 2018 and 2021
  • Professor and author of greyhound strategy said the GBGB’s welfare approach is “world class”
Greyhound at a racetrack
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and other charities have put their weight behind a campaign to stop greyhound racing in the UK. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Three charities demand ban

Three of the United Kingdom’s most high-profile animal welfare charities have called for an end to the country’s long-established sport of greyhound racing.

The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) has dubbed Tuesday’s statement as “misguided” and “utterly irresponsible.” The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), took to Twitter with a campaign ad endorsed by fellow charities Blue Cross and Dogs Trust:

The co-campaigners want a greyhound racing ban “announced as soon as possible” in order to halt what the charities call the “unnecessary and completely preventable deaths of hundreds of dogs every year.”

In a statement signed by both GBGB’s chair and its CEO, the body slammed the proposals as showing “the true agenda of animal rights extremists who hold substantial sway over your organisations.”

Should the charities get their wish, it will bring the curtain down on a sport that grew fast in popularity after its debut race in Manchester in 1926.

Counter arguments

In Tuesday’s statement, the RSPCA cited the GBGB’s own data that “over 2,000 greyhounds died and nearly 18,000 injuries were recorded from greyhound racing between 2018 and 2021.” 

In response, GBGB CEO Mark Bird said welfare standards in the sport have improved dramatically over the past four years.” The CEO referenced the GBGB’s Greyhound Commitment initiative which, he said, “has seen national track fatalities already reduced by half from 0.06% in 2018 to 0.03% in 2021.”

There’s a clear sense of surprise and betrayal in the GBGB’s open letter response to the three charities, accusing the trio of going “from working with us […] to working against us.” The GBGB also said the three charities have, until now, “welcomed and supported the significant steps we have taken in ensuring animal welfare sits at the heart of out sport.”

highlighted concerns such as greyhounds racing in “extreme weather conditions”

In a country of dog lovers, the three charities’ campaign will no doubt raise nationwide debate. The RSPCA statement also highlighted concerns such as greyhounds racing in “extreme weather conditions,” poor living conditions for the dogs, and concerns around transporting the greyhounds to and from race venues.

To add insult to injury, the trio fired a wider broadside, accusing the sport of non-transparent industry practices, citing issues with regulatory enforcement, and bemoaning a barrier to improvement caused by a lack of a “consistent source of income” for the sector.

Horseracing, fishing next?

Professor Madeleine Campbell, author of A Good Life for Every Greyhound, believes that the GBGB’s welfare approach is “world class”, citing expertise and input from specialists, vets, academics, and animal welfare experts. 

In 2019, the UK’s leading bookmakers agreed on an additional voluntary payment of £3m ($3.2m) towards caring for thousands of racing greyhounds in an effort to boost their welfare.

As a warning shot, the GBGB said the charities’ statement will concern people who love sports like fishing, dog agility, horseracing, and show jumping, placing them on alert that their sport will be next.