Many vulnerable animals and humans were struggling with the heat last weekend, as Scotland experienced the highest temperatures of the year so far. There were important calls across media and social media, urging people to look out for wildlife and companion animals at risk of heat stress and dehydration.
Dogs in particular are vulnerable to heatstroke and burned paw pads when temperatures soar. While they still need exercise, it’s recommended to go for dog walks in the early morning or late evening – and certainly to avoid running with dogs in hot weather. Despite this, greyhounds, one of the breeds at higher risk of heatstroke, were forced to race last Saturday evening on Scotland’s last greyhound track in Fife.
Urging for a full ban on greyhound racing
Regardless of the weather, the greyhound racing industry is notorious for its appalling treatment of greyhounds. As highlighted in the recent UK parliament debate on the issue, a staggering 18,345 greyhounds were injured and heartbreakingly, over 3,000 greyhounds died in the UK between 2017 and 2020.
In the same time span, just one licenced stadium in Scotland reported 15 greyhound deaths and 197 injuries. It has thankfully not re-opened its doors since closing for the pandemic in March 2020. For those greyhounds that do survive the tracks and are lucky enough to be rescued, the psychological and physical damage of their racing career can sadly be long lasting.
OneKind is wholly opposed to greyhound racing and has been urging the Scottish government to put in place a full ban. A ‘sport’ that exploits animals as commodities and completely disregards their welfare is unacceptable and should have no place in our society. Last year, we supported petitions led by two separate grassroots organisations, Scotland Against Greyhound Exploitation (SAGE) and Alliance Against Greyhound Racing. And, we also submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliament on the issue.
The Alliance Against Greyhound racing petition gathered over 104,000 signatures – enough to land a UK parliament debate on the issue back in March. While some MPs backed the petitioners, sadly others who support or are even involved in the greyhound racing industry, spoke out in favour of it.
Disappointingly, the UK government concluded by not believing a ban to be necessary, although it did recognise welfare issues.
One track remaining in Scotland
There is just one remaining track left in Scotland – the completely unregulated ‘flapper’ track at Thornton Stadium in Fife.
Subject to no regulations or scrutiny, flapper tracks have no vet present, and no record of injuries and deaths, the dogs that are raced, how often they are forced to race and who is racing them. This track has drawn concern across the board, with MSPs like Mark Ruskell raising the issue in Parliament, and the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission and Scottish SPCA calling for its closure.
Hope for a ban
In April, the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee hosted an evidence session on Scotland Against Greyhound Exploitation’s petition to put an end to greyhound racing in Scotland.
Amongst the issues raised in the evidence session were concerns over the number of greyhound injuries and deaths, the psychological damage that is commonplace in rescued greyhounds and the unregulated ‘flapper track’ in Fife.
One of those concerned was Mark Ruskell MSP, who called the greyhound racing industry as a whole, ‘beyond reform.’
The RAINE Committee will consider next steps once it has heard back from contacted stakeholders. In the meantime, OneKind will continue to push for a complete ban on this cruel ‘sport’.
Consider rescuing a greyhound
We will continue campaigning until the greyhound industry comes to an end. In the meantime, if you are in a position to welcome a dog into your home, please consider rescuing one of these sensitive, lazy and loving dogs from your local greyhound rehoming charity or rescue centre.