Greyhound and horse racing, and the attached betting, are two activities that continue to cause controversy. Calls emerge from time to time for a ban on both, and one has now resurfaced in Scotland.
Greyhound racing, as well as horse racing, is an activity many would like to see come to a halt. The US has seen efforts to ban the races at local and federal levels. In other countries, similar measures occasionally appear to do the same.
Most often, the initiatives are the result of animal welfare groups who allege the races are nothing more than a form of animal cruelty. However, racing organizations, which derive some of their revenue from the sports betting space, reject these accusations.
The Scottish arm of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SCPA) is renewing its efforts to bring the races to a halt. It is lobbying lawmakers to ban the activity of an “outdated industry” that, it asserts, only leads to death or injury to the canines.
Call Off the Dogs
The Scottish SCPA, through its chief superintendent, Mike Flynn, penned a letter to lawmakers last week, requesting that lawmakers intervene. It argues that greyhound racing has led to the deaths of 15 greyhounds and injuries to another 197 at just one racetrack.
There is also rampant use of steroids and illegal medicine, according to the organization. As a result of the cruelty, it says, the only solution is a complete ban on races.
Scotland needs to lead the way in the UK and put the welfare of racing greyhounds first by implementing a full ban on this outdated industry,” states Scottish SPCA head Mike Flynn.
Should lawmakers back the measure, the SCPA promises it will care for all of the dogs that need to find new homes. It states that it will become responsible for their well-being and will spay or neuter all former racing canines.
For almost the past three years, a separate animal welfare protection group has led a similar effort. The Scotland Against Greyhound (SAGE) lobby group wants a ban on races and continues to present its request.
The Scottish Parliament has had on the table the group’s initiative since 2019, but has not approved or rejected it. Several lawmakers have voiced their stance on the matter over the years, but the proposed ban never gains enough momentum.
Claims of Cruelty Out of Place
The SCPA, which doesn’t want animals to be “exploited for human gain or profit,” argues that greyhound industry players allow animal cruelty to occur. The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB), which governs greyhound races, rejects this claim.
The topic of a ban on the races resurfaces every now and then. When it did last year, the GBGB issued a statement downplaying the treatment the animals receive. The organization, which receives financial support from the Betting and Gaming Council, asserted that it requires those in the industry to comply with an established code of practice as it conducted regular inspections of kennels and facilities.
As a regulator, we closely monitor the welfare of all GBGB registered greyhounds and have a very strict anti-doping policy. There is no place for mistreatment of greyhounds within our sport and we are prepared to take the strongest action if evidence of this is ever found,” states GBGB CEO Mark Bird.
The BGBG donates around 75% of its profits to animal welfare and concentrates its efforts on re-homing retired dogs. It pointed out that around 95% of retired greyhounds successfully found new homes in 2020.
It’s likely the measure will find support in a new environment. Dog race betting in the UK is on the decline and has been for the past decade. In March 2009, the market was worth $1.95 billion, according to Statista. 10 years later, it was worth less than half that as it steadily declined year after year.
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