Figures released today by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB), the regulator of licensed greyhound racing, show that the sport is on track to achieve the challenging welfare targets it set itself last year.

The data, which has been independently verified by external auditors, accounts for every GBGB registered greyhound injured on the track or leaving the sport in 2019.

Last year, GBGB set itself and the sport the challenging target to halve, within three years, the number of greyhounds being put to sleep on humane grounds at the track due to injuries.  One year on, this number has fallen by 14% from 242 to 207.  This is a fatality rate of 0.05%.

GBGB also set itself the target to halve in the same period, the number of dogs being put to sleep on economic grounds or because no home was found.  GBGB’s ultimate aim is to eliminate these deaths entirely.  In 2018, 180 dogs were euthanised because of the high cost of medical treatment or because no home was found; in 2019 this figure fell by over 30% to 123 and no dogs were euthanised because no home could be found for them.

The significant fall in cases of economic euthanasia is a result of successful new initiatives such as GBGB’s Injury Recovery Scheme which provides financial support to owners and trainers whose greyhound has sustained a career-ending orthopaedic injury at a GBGB licensed racecourse.  The scheme helps cover the costs of veterinary treatment so that greyhounds can go on to enjoy long and happy retirements. To date, over £125,000 has been paid out through the scheme to treat over 400 greyhounds.

The data also shows a significant reduction in those greyhounds put to sleep because they were designated ‘‘unsuitable for homing’. In 2018, 190 dogs were put to sleep for this reason whilst in 2019, the number is 56% lower at 83. This decrease is due in part to the intervention of GBGB’s Stipendiary Stewards who have been working closely with trainers to help them re-home their greyhounds on retirement.  GBGB aims to decrease this number further by working alongside its welfare charity partners to establish an assessment protocol for these dogs and to explore ways of better preparing them for the transition to life as a pet.

The 2019 data shows a 24% reduction in overall deaths across the licenced greyhound population from 932 in 2018 to 710 in 2019. It should be noted that not all greyhound deaths are related to racing; many racing greyhounds are put to sleep for reasons that equally affect working and non-working dogs of all breeds, including long-term health conditions and sudden death.

Commenting on the data, Mark Bird, Managing Director of GBGB, said:

“Across licensed greyhound racing, we continue to put our greyhounds at the heart of all we do and through our Greyhound Commitment we are relentless in our mission to uphold the very highest standards of welfare.

 “When we launched these targets last year, we were clear that they were ambitious and challenging but that we were determined to do whatever we can to achieve them.  It is therefore very pleasing to see strong progress being made in reaching both targets.

“As the sport’s regulator, we are clear with everyone in the sport that euthanasia on economic grounds is unacceptable and we will continue to work with trainers, owners, racecourses and our animal welfare partners to ensure that all avoidable deaths within our sport are eliminated.”

 Jeremy Cooper, GBGB Chairman, said:

“It is encouraging to see these figures published today which demonstrate the significant progress that GBGB and the wider industry has made since the launch of the Greyhound Commitment two years ago. 

“Our aim is that every licenced racing greyhound enjoys a competitive career on the track followed by a long and happy retirement as a pet. The figures published today provide our sport with an accurate picture of where we are and, importantly, where we need to do more to achieve this goal. We are thankful for the support of the industry and our welfare charity partners as we continue to work towards our targets.” 

 Animal Welfare Minister Lord Goldsmith said:

 “I welcome the continued transparency shown by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain in publishing its annual data on greyhound injuries and retirements from the sport. 

 “It is encouraging to see the progress that has been made; with the number of injuries on a downward trajectory and improved circumstances for retired greyhounds.  We will continue to work with the sector to build on this progress in years to come.”

You can read the second annual update on the Greyhound Commitment here.