Greyhound Racing Harmless Fun?


Don't Bet On It!

A flutter, a wager, a punt, a bet; a night at the dogs or trip down the bookies is just a bit of harmless fun, right? For the dogs, there's more at stake than your cash. What you don't see trackside or in the betting shops are the thousands of greyhounds that are unaccounted for every year. Some go missing as puppies because they are too slow or shy for the tracks. Other ex-racing dogs lose their speed after a few years and disappear - the majority of them are presumed dead. (*1)

We campaign to protect animals. Our products are all vegetarian and mostly vegan, we work to eliminate animal experiments from the cosmetics industry, and we use our website and our shops to speak up on issues that we are passionate about. Not too long ago, a group of our shop managers got together and told us they wanted to campaign about reported cruelty in the greyhound racing industry. So, we consulted with expert sources, did our own research, and what we found left us speechless; we felt it was time to take a stand.


The life of a racing greyhound can be a far cry from the loving homes that many of the UK's dogs live in today. Some racing greyhounds are not treated as part of any family, they are bred and raised to make money for the racing and betting industries.

Greyhounds can live to be 14 years old, but most lose their speed between the ages of 3 and 4 (*2). This leaves trainers with many unwanted dogs due to the large number of them no longer able to race at top speed.

The Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare reported in 2007 that 4,728 greyhounds disappear from racing in Britain every year and stated that "...we can assume that the majority of these dogs are destroyed." They also considered the figure to be a conservative estimate. (*3)

One prominent case of the slaughter of ex-racing dogs involved the killing of greyhounds in Seaham, County Durham, which was exposed by the national media in 2006 (*4). The Sunday Times estimated that up to 10,000 unwanted greyhounds were slaughtered and buried in mass graves. A 'dog track insider' was quoted as saying,

" This service is for the licensed trainers who have 50 or 60 dogs in their kennels. The greyhounds are used for the afternoon races that appear on television. These dogs have made a lot of people a lot of money and they don't deserve to be shot in the head. It is a scandal that the industry should be ashamed of. "

Some "retired" racing greyhounds are lucky and manage to get re-homed after an expensive process. According to the Dogs' Trust, it usually costs around £700 to rehabilitate a racing greyhound and make the dog suitable for adoption. (*5) The racing industry gives £1.7 million to the Retired Greyhound Trust. (*6) Although this may sound like a lot, our calculations show that the industry would need another £3.3m to re-home the 4,728 dogs that are unaccounted for each year. (*7)

Registered racing greyhounds have tattoos in their ears as a means of identifying them and tracing their owners. (*8) There have been cases where greyhounds have been found abandoned or dead with their ears cut off, and this is thought to prevent those responsible from being indentified. (*9)


In the last two years, there have been a number of news stories about greyhounds being treated with neglect:

In May 2010, the Daily Express newspaper ran an article titled 'AGONY OF CAGED GREYHOUNDS' where they reported that dogs were found living in squalid conditions in small cages (*10).

Just last year, two men in Colchester received prison sentences for keeping dogs in conditions so appalling that the judge described them like those of a "concentration camp". (*11)

In 2009, kennels at Swansea Greyhound Stadium were in violation of the Animal Welfare Act after inspectors found dogs kept on soiled bedding and kennels smelling of urine. Magistrates heard evidence that 'One animal had an open cut on its tail with blood smeared across its kennel wall.' (*12)


Dogs are sometimes killed at greyhound tracks because of injuries they sustain while racing around oval-shaped tracks at high speeds. Graham Oliver, a veterinarian in Nottinghamshire told BBC Nottingham that 'It is a matter of fact in racing that dogs do get injured' and that collisions between dogs result in some being euthanised. (*13)

Listen to his revealing interview here. While the industry does not publish the numbers of dogs injured or killed on their tracks (*14), a casual look at recent news stories shows that this is an all too common occurrence:

30 dogs killed a Belle Vue track in 2009 reports the Manchester Evening News. (*15)

One dog is killed following a collision at local stadium in 2010 reports the Oxford Mail. (*16)

2 dogs killed at Birmingham track in January 2010 reports the BBC. (*17)

4 dogs killed at Swindon track in 2010 following collisions reports the Swindon Advertiser. (*18)

We feel that dogs belong in the park, running and playing, not in noisy, brightly lit stadiums with crowds yelling at them. Faced with injuries and death from the tracks, we bet that the life of a commercial racing greyhound is never one that a dog would choose for themselves.

It is our view that most of these problems stem from the enormous sums of money at stake in the racing industry. £2.5 billion is placed on greyhound racing bets every year. (*19) We are concerned that whenever profit and animals mix, animals can become seen as just a business asset and their welfare suffers. For this reason, we are asking that betting on greyhound racing is done away with and people stop supporting the commercial greyhound racing industry.


Please offer your support and help stop the suffering by doing these simple things:

Please don't support commercial greyhound tracks. There are plenty of other places to go for a good night out that don't involve racing dogs.

Don't bet on greyhound racing. If you do want to bet on a sporting event, go for one that involves human athletes, like football.

Get involved with a local group working on this issue. You can find a list of greyhound action groups here.

Give a greyhound a loving home. Find a list of rescue groups here.



1. APGAW report page 16 for pups and page 6 for racers, fifth bullet point under the section 'What happens to unwanted dogs'?
2. APGAW report page 19, article 1.5.2 Number of Dogs Kept as Pets/Kept in Kennels
3. APGAW report page 6, under the section 'What happens to Unwanted dogs?' 5th bullet point.
5. APGAW report page 22, 2.1 Increasing Rehoming paragraph 4
7. Figure calculated by multiplying the number of dogs that disappear from greyhound racing (APGAW figure) by the cost of re-homing that is provided by the Dogs Trust.
8. APGAW report page 33 3.8 Indentification of Greyhounds second sentence
9. APGAW report page 33, 3.8 Indentification of Greyhounds
14. APGAW report page 32


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© Keith Mann