Mark Ruskell hails animal charities call for end to greyhound racing 

Scottish SPCA, The Dogs Trust and RSPCA gave evidence to committee urging phasing out of cruel sport.

A call from Scotland’s leading animal charities to phase out greyhound racing has been welcomed by Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The Dogs Trust, and Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals all urged the sport to be ended.

Claire Calder, Head of Public Affairs at The Dogs Trust and Sam Gaines, Head of Companion Animals at RSPCA also confirmed they have exited The Greyhound Forum, the industry’s multi-agency group, after announcing their new position for a phased end.

They gave evidence at Holyrood’s Rural Affairs and Islands Committee on Wednesday in the third parliamentary evidence session of an inquiry into a petition calling for an end to greyhound racing in Scotland. 

The RSPCA’s Ms Gaines said:

“Despite our long history of having worked with the industry, we now strongly believe that it is a long way away from ensuring the welfare of the dogs that are involved in racing. 

“We don’t feel that progress is…moving at scale to actually protect the dogs that are affected by this sport…and so we are now of the view that this activity has to be phased out.”

The Dogs Trust highlighted that greyhound racing is inherently dangerous, and that the only feasible outcome that prioritises the dogs’ welfare is either a phase out or immediate closure of greyhound racing. 

Ms Calder from Dogs Trust said:

“Data suggests that from 2018-2021 over 2000 dogs died or were put to sleep as a result of the industry, and there were nearly 18,000 injuries…[this] suggests that racing is inherently dangerous.”

Gilly Mendes-Ferreira, Director of Innovation and Strategy Relations at the Scottish SPCA highlighted that current animal welfare legislation is not sufficient to protect the welfare of racing greyhounds, and the risks faced by these dogs is significantly higher than other companion animals. 

Ms Mendes-Ferreira from SSPCA said:

“Why, in this day and age, when we are saying we are a nation that cares about animal welfare, we are saying it is acceptable to have dogs run around a track knowing that they are going to get injured.”

The new evidence comes after industry heads spoke to the committee last week, claiming that it had to accept that any sports involving animals carried risk, despite hundreds of greyhounds dying every year as a consequence of racing.

Following the evidence session, Mr Ruskell said:

“There are inherent, fatal risks to greyhounds when they are forced to run around an oval track at 40mph. 

“Despite protestations to the contrary from the industry, today’s evidence from leading animal welfare experts shows that the only way we can protect the welfare of these beautiful, graceful creatures is to phase out greyhound racing once and for all. 

“No amount of PR from the industry can disguise the fact that this so-called sport is on its last legs and the industry is beyond reform.”

“We must always choose paws over profit. There is no place for dog racing in a modern and compassionate Scotland.”