Scotland on Brink of Greyhound Racing Ban
Political momentum is building in Scotland for an outright ban on greyhound racing, and a decision could come as soon as tomorrow.
A parliamentary commission is expected to deliver a “pivotal recommendation” on the future of the sport to the Scottish givernment in Holyrood on Wednesday. If the commission recommends a ban, the government will likely set the wheels in motion.
Scotland is expected to become the first nation in the UK to ban the sport, which might eventually trigger other nations in the union to follow suit, according to The Times of London.
The UK has 25 dog racing tracks, the vast majority of which are in England.
Dog Days of Racing
Scottish greyhound racing has been in decline since its heyday in the 1930s and 1940s. Today, the country has only one track, Thornton Greyhound Stadium in Fife, which is unregulated. That means it lacks mandatory drug testing and trackside veterinarians.
The last regulated stadium in the country was Shawfield in South Lanarkshire. It did not reopen after the COVID-19 lockdown.
A petition to end greyhound racing in Scotland has received over 130,000 signatures.
The campaign to ban the sport is spearheaded by Scotland Against Greyhound Exploitation (Sage), with backing from numerous animal charities, including The Dogs Trust, Scottish SPCA, RSPCA, and the Blue Cross.
They point to statistics from the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) that more than 3,000 racing dogs died from 2017 to 2020, with an estimated 18,345 injured over the same period. The GBGB emphasizes the statistics also included dogs that died from long-term illness or natural causes.
“We believe that [tomorrow] they will say we think [greyhound racing] should be banned in Scotland. Wednesday is pivotal, if they come out and ban it, the government is going to have to act on that. I’m feeling very optimistic.,” Sage chairwoman Gill Docherty told The Times.
If you stripped away all the concerns about how they’re kept, that they’re drugged, that they’re discarded at the end, dogs will still die on the tracks. You can’t remove that risk, so it needs to go,” she added.
Thornton racetrack owner Paul Brignal said: “Sage keeps banging on about there being 18,000 injured dogs and 3,000 deaths but we only have about 70 dogs left in racing. We’ve had two serious injuries this one year and one dog sadly died. But accidents can happen in every sport.”
Death Throes in US
In the US, greyhound racing is a dying sport in more ways than one. In 2018, Florida, once the epicenter of dog racing in America, voted in a public referendum to phase it out completely after December 31, 2020.
Arkansas, West Virginia, and Iowa are the only states that still permit commercial greyhound racing and betting. Arkansas and Iowa have resolved to phase out races at the end of this year.