Despite the impact of the COVID-19 lockout, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) has remarked on its commitment to provide ‘the highest standards of welfare.’
The GBGB has initiated a number of measures to meet the eight pledges of the Greyhound Commitment, including the Greyhound Retirement Scheme, the release of a Code of Practice for residential kennels, and a revamp of licencing and residential kennel inspections.
The research revealed a lot of important information, including the fact that the number of greyhounds put to sleep due to excessive veterinary treatment costs has decreased significantly from 123 in 2019 to 24 in 2020.
In addition, for the second year in a row, no greyhounds were put to sleep owing to an inability to rehome them, a significant improvement over the 180 who were put to sleep in 2018.
The GBGB set a goal of reducing this number, and one of the key goals of the Greyhound Commitment was to increase rehoming activities. According to the new statistics, 95 percent of greyhounds who left the sport were successfully rehomed in 2020, up from 90 percent in 2019.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has already supported these and other projects with a £1 million pledge, and 75 percent of the GBGB’s cash goes directly to greyhound welfare.
Programme of improvements
Mark Bird, Managing Director of GBGB said: “When we began to put in place our programme of improvements for 2020, we could have no idea that the COVID-19 pandemic would be the major battle we would face that year – nor that we would still be experiencing the after effects now.
“It was a hugely challenging year for the UK and for the world, and it really has been through the hard work and fortitude of everyone within greyhound racing that we have pulled through it as an industry and driven further progress through our Greyhound Commitment.”
In addition, the track injury rate has decreased to 1.12 percent (2019: 1.21 percent), while the fatality rate has remained constant at 0.06 percent. The GBGB insists that lowering this figure will remain a priority for the entire sport in the future.
The COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdowns, according to Bird, were likely to have a “detrimental impact” on the sport and its capacity to maintain its welfare efforts, when it was forced to close indefinitely in March and then returned in June but without spectators.
‘Raise welfare and integrity standards’
The numbers, on the other hand, show that the GBGB was able to meet its objectives. The organisation has also recently pledged to amending its Rules of Racing in order to “raise welfare and integrity standards.”
“With the March 2020 lockdown in particular, we saw the detrimental impact that the loss of greyhound racing – albeit temporarily – had on livelihoods across our sport,” Bird continued. “And the consequences of that on our greyhounds could have been tragic.
“But with the emergency financial support we were able to introduce and the efforts of owners, trainers, vets, stadia and our own Stipendiary Stewards, we were able to prevent the very difficult scenarios which we may have otherwise faced.
“The success of these measures is borne out in the figures released today and I would like to thank everyone across our sport who acted to maintain the highest standards of care and attention for our greyhounds throughout.”
A thriving sport
The data was also discussed by Jeremy Cooper, Chairman of the GBGB: “Whilst the impact of COVID will continue to be felt for some time, everyone can be proud that British greyhound racing continues to be a thriving sport with world-class welfare standards,” he said.
“The data being published today demonstrates the success of the Greyhound Commitment and many of the initiatives contained within it. To have achieved such a sharp fall in the number of greyhounds put to sleep on economic grounds is highly commendable and reflects the determination of everyone within the sport to ensure every greyhound enjoys a long and healthy retirement.
“Looking ahead, we remain steadfast in our commitment to further reducing the track fatality rate and we look forward to working across the sport to achieve this.”