Earlier this week, the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC) published its report Report on the welfare of greyhounds used for racing. Its report came in response to a request from the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee (RAINE) of Scottish Parliament.

In its report, SAWC announced that it would be ‘desirable’ not to have organised greyhound racing in Scotland and that no further tracks should be developed in Scotland: 

‘If Thornton were to close, Scotland would be in the position of having no organised greyhound racing taking place, which on balance we consider desirable. Although we are unclear if this is likely in the near future, should a phased end to greyhound racing be imposed in England and Wales, it has been argued that this might cause an increased interest in developing new racetracks in Scotland. We strongly recommend against any such future development.’ 

The report largely strengthens the calls from OneKind, like-minded organisations, and the Scottish public for the Scottish Government to phase out the greyhound racing industry in Scotland. 

Background to the report 

As part of RAINE’s consideration of a petition submitted by Scotland Against Greyhound Racing, that called for an end to greyhound racing in Scotland, RAINE asked SAWC for its views on the welfare of greyhounds racing in Scotland in general, but also requested its views on unlicensed greyhound tracks operating in Scotland specifically.  

Issues considered in the report included: 

1) to formulate a view on the welfare of racing greyhounds in Scotland generally;  

2) specifically to consider the welfare of dogs running on unlicensed greyhound racing tracks operating in Scotland; and  

3) to consider whether the welfare of greyhounds would be protected by implementing regulatory mechanisms, such as those suggested by GBGB, but not limited to this body. 


SAWC highlighted the welfare issues of greyhound racing and made several concluding recommendations and statements, including: 

  • Where gambling and other commercial activities are present, the risks of poor welfare outweigh the likely positive aspects.   
  • No further new greyhound tracks are to be permitted in Scotland. 
  • Independent tracks impose specific risks on dog welfare through lack of immediate veterinary care to injured dogs and general veterinary oversight of the dogs. A veterinarian must always be present when dogs are racing to minimise unnecessary suffering in the event of an injury and should have the power to prevent a dog racing if deemed unfit.   
  • A scheme independent of GBGB is required to ensure the welfare of greyhounds kennelled in Scotland, that would be transported to England to race. 

A phase out to greyhound racing 

The strong support for a phase out to greyhound racing amongst animal welfare organisations and grassroots groups and the Scottish public is clear. Indeed, 6 out of 10 Scots believe that the Scottish Government should put an end to greyhound racing (survey from Panelbase on behalf of GREY2K USA Worldwide). 

The wealth of welfare risks in the industry has also now been well-documented by the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission. We will be working hard to ensure that the Scottish Government listens and commits to a phase out of greyhound racing in Scotland.