News Blog UK Parliament debates greyhound racing ban 31-03-22 On the 28th March, MPs debated a petition calling for an end to greyhound racing, in the UK Parliament. The petition, hosted by the Alliance Against Greyhound Racing and which OneKind has supported, obtained more than 104,000 signatures and requested that the UK Government introduce legislation to abolish greyhound racing in England. Debate highlights Greyhounds exploited as commodities Christina Rees MP (Labour) who led the debate on behalf of the petitioners began by noting that the greyhound racing industry uses thousands of greyhounds as commodities and highlighted the suffering they endure as a result. “Our society is rightly judged in how it treats its animals, and racing dogs are no exception.” Rees also used her allocated time to relay the heart-breaking case in Wales where a greyhound who had been exploited by the industry was found shot, with his ears hacked off and left for dead. His tail was still wagging. Very sadly, he had to be euthanised due to the extent of his injuries. Support for the cruel industry Following Rees’ devastating case study of a greyhound left for dead, sadly several MPs spoke in support of greyhound racing. Andrew Rosindell MP (Conservative) Andrew Rosindell MP (Conservative), Vice President of the Greyhound Trust (rehoming centres with links to the greyhound racing industry) and co-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Greyhound Group, began by showing his support for greyhound racing and his admiration of the cruel activity as a ‘historic British tradition’. Rosindell even stated that he was ‘proud’ of his constituents that went to his local greyhound racing stadium in Romsford. He called for greater welfare standards, though did not outline what these should be, but ultimately concluded that he confidently supports the industry. Ian Lavery MP (Labour) Ian Lavery MP (Labour) led a very impassioned speech about his support for the greyhound racing industry stating that ‘the notion these dogs are abused and killed regularly is outdated.’ Between 2017 and 2020, a staggering 18,345 greyhounds were injured and, heartbreakingly, a shocking 3,153 greyhounds died. It is important to state that Lavery has been involved in the greyhound racing industry for 40 years and in the past he has kept two greyhounds that he forced to race. Significantly, he also previously failed to declare his involvement in greyhound racing when taking over the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Greyhounds. Ruth Jones MP (Labour) Ruth Jones MP (Labour), while calling for more stringent welfare standards and regulation, also supports the greyhound racing industry, disappointingly stating that she believes a ban is unnecessary. Neil Parish MP (Conservative) Neil Parish MP (Conservative) specifically outlined the welfare issues that he believed need to be improved upon, including kennel conditions, ‘trainers’ and the killing of healthy dogs because they can no longer make a profit for hums. However, ultimately he does not support a ban. The story of Honour and Love John McNally MP (SNP) commented on the cruelty of this ‘so-called sport’ and raised awareness of the suffering inflicted upon greyhounds by this industry by reading aloud the number of greyhound deaths and injuries recorded by GBGB throughout the years (not including the injuries and deaths at the 3 independent tracks in the UK): 3,575 injuries in 2020, 324 deaths in 2018 and 14 deaths every week in 2019. McNally also read a touching story from one of his constituents who shares her home with her rescued greyhound, Morag (racing name- Honour and Love): “I adopted Morag when she was 5 and a half…She had a rotten life. I’ll never know if she was born terrified or if her earlier experiences made her that way. Ironically, her racing name was Honour and Love, but I never saw any signs of ever having been honoured or loved. She didn’t know anything about the world outside of race tracks. She had never slept on anything but straw and probably old newspapers. Shut up, locked up in a crate day and night, Morag bears the scars of her racing ‘career’. Not just mentally, but in the form of ugly large blackheads on her abdomen, a nasty scar on her face and the loss of 17 teeth… “In the world of gambling these wonderful, intelligent and innocent sighthounds don’t matter. Only their ability to run for their lives at the snapping open of a metal trap matters. But Morag matters. When Morag first wagged her tail and when she first played with her toys and when she sighed contently in her basket, Mary had won the best race of all. She survived to have a better life. The revenge on those who mishandled her, who filled her with drugs, who didn’t show a minute of kindness and would have put a cattle bolt to her head, had the regulations not improved and the kindness of volunteers and rescue centres.” As a Scottish MP, McNally also noted that the greyhound racing industry is on its last legs in Scotland. UK Government response While we welcome the UK Government recognising that there are welfare issues within the industry, we are very disappointed that ultimately they believe a ban on the cruel ‘sport’ of greyhound racing is unnecessary. In answering for The Government, Rebecca Pow, the Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, stated that she believes greyhound racing currently has a proactive pro welfare body in charge which wishes to work to improve animal welfare. This is simply not the case. These incredibly sensitive animals are still injured and killed at staggering rates, doped with drugs, discarded when they are no longer profitable and forced to live in inadequate kennel environments. When rescued, greyhounds can be overwhelmed by the outside world. Many will never have seen stairs and will spend weeks trying to learn how to use them, others may be completely non-socialised and nervous around other dogs. Separation anxiety is often commonplace at first, while dogs are absolutely terrified to be left alone. Poor dental hygiene is also rife in dogs rescued from the industry, with some dogs being left with no teeth at all. Does this really sound like dogs who have had their welfare prioritised? What’s next? OneKind is wholly opposed to greyhound racing and will continue to support the grassroots organisations who are tirelessly fighting for a ban on this exploitative industry. There is a petition in the Scottish Parliament that was carried over from the previous session and has now been assigned to the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment committee. We have previously submitted a statement in support of this petition and will continue to work to promote it once the committee begins consideration of it.