National Greyhound Vets’ Conference Helps Usher in New Welfare Strategy
GBGB’s annual Vets’ Training Day returned in person to spotlight new research, initiatives and innovations, as part of the sport’s long-term welfare strategy ‘A Good Life for Every Greyhound’. The day involved presentations and workshops including from world-leading greyhound veterinary specialists and researchers.
Last week, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) welcomed specialist veterinary surgeons, students and researchers from around the country for its annual Vets’ Training Day. Hosted at Nottingham Greyhound Stadium on Tuesday 4th October, it was the first time the event had been held in person since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and provided an opportunity for vets to come together to discuss best practice and the latest research on greyhound welfare.
The event followed the launch of GBGB’s new long-term welfare strategy ‘A Good Life for Every Greyhound’ earlier this year. With vets playing a fundamental role in the care greyhounds receive during their racing careers – present at every race and trial and working hand in glove with trainers, kennelhands and track staff – the strategy focuses on their ongoing professional development and access to cutting-edge research. The Vets’ Training Day was therefore a chance to spotlight new initiatives and innovations, not just within the sport but across wider veterinary research, with an impact on greyhound care and welfare.
Over the course of the training day, vets heard from world-leading veterinary researchers and specialists about the relevance of their work to the racing community. Presentations included from the University of Nottingham’s Professor Richard Payne, who spoke about the latest developments in acidosis, muscle physiology and disease surveillance. Karen Mechan from LGC – the specialist testing facility which performs around 11,000 tests for the sport every year – also delivered a presentation about the use of their animal sports analytical services to support high welfare standards.
Furthermore, vets participated in a practical workshop on understanding the science of track preparation, led by GBGB’s national Track Liaison Officer Mark Peacock together with Dr Christian Spring from STRI. This provided vets with hands-on experience about the role of specialist equipment used at tracks to create the safest possible surface for greyhounds.
GBGB’s new Veterinary Executive Tiffany Blackett – who supervises the implementation of GBGB’s ‘A Good Life for Every Greyhound’ strategy, said of the event:
“It was great to have such a large turnout at the training day, with vets from tracks across the country in attendance. It was fascinating to hear updates on the latest research into greyhound health and wellbeing and the work that is being done throughout the sport to promote and protect welfare at every stage of a racing greyhound’s life.
“As veterinarians, we have a vital role to play in the implementation of GBGB’s new welfare strategy and I was very pleased to be able to update the vets on the progress that has been made since the strategy’s launch earlier this year. This includes on the new greyhound-specific AWAG (Animal Welfare Assessment Grid) which we have developed alongside Professor Sarah Wolfensohn and her team at the University of Surrey to be trialled in the new year, and the recruitment of the new team of GBGB Regional Regulatory Vets, who will further support and protect greyhound welfare.”
Dr Simon Gower, GBGB’s Veterinary Director, said:
“For this year’s training, we were very grateful for the support and expertise of Dr Richard Payne, as well as STRI’s Dr Christian Spring and LGC’s Karen Mechan, to help provide a well-rounded picture of research and best practice affecting the sport. There are always new developments within the research community so these events provide a valuable forum for us to ensure we are constantly harnessing these benefits as a sport and for our greyhounds.
“I know that the event has already stimulated important ideas and conversations amongst our veterinary colleagues, especially as implementation on GBGB’s new long-term welfare strategy continues to gather momentum. We are all looking forward to continuing to support this work, and its many important underpinning initiatives, over the coming months.”
Licensed vets will have access to filmed content and presentations from the event via the dedicated Vets’ Portal, which they can log into at www.gbgb.org.uk.