MPs have called on bookmakers to do more to protect the welfare of greyhounds

Posted On: 
25th February 2016

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee published a report today urging the Government to consider a statutory levy on bookmakers to improve protections for dogs both during their racing career and in retirement.

The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) said it would “continue to support” the welfare of greyhounds, while animal charity Blue Cross said there should be “tougher regulations” on the industry.

The Efra Committee said it was concerned that financial difficulties facing greyhound racing could lead to the welfare of dogs deteriorating.

It pointed out that contributions to the Greyhound Board of Great Britain from bookmakers had dropped by nearly 50% in the last ten years as some companies stop contributing from online or overseas profits.

Neil Parish, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee, said: “All racing greyhounds should enjoy high welfare standards both during their racing career and retirement. Bookmakers who profit from greyhound racing should contribute to welfare standards regardless of whether the profits are from high-street stores, online or overseas betting.

“The welfare of racing greyhounds shouldn’t be at the whim of bookmakers who can simply choose to contribute or not. The Government should consider introducing a statutory levy or an alternative betting rights model to protect animal welfare.”

Jim Fitzpatrick, a Labour MP who sits on the committee, called for greater information about the fate of dogs once they retired from racing.

“If the destruction of healthy dogs is happening on a large scale it is clear that the industry should bear a greater financial responsibility for funding rehomed greyhounds,” he said .

Blue Cross said the MPs’ report was a “positive step in the right direction”.

“The Efra report recommendations, if adopted by Government, will make a real difference for racing greyhounds, said Steve Goody, the charity’s deputy chief executive.

“As a charity that finds new homes for pets, we are particularly encouraged to see that Efra has recommended that wherever possible retired dogs should be found homes at the end of their careers.

“We are also pleased to see EFRA recommend that the betting industry, who make large profits of the back of races, have a greater role to play in terms of putting funding back into protecting the welfare of the dogs, something we have been calling for a number of years.

“We just hope that Government and the industry take the recommendations on board to ensure that the welfare of racing greyhounds is better protected.”

The ABB, the trade association for bookmakers, highlighted the contributions made by the industry.

"As the Committee rightly notes, 90% of betting shops contribute to the British Greyhound Racing Fund - contributions which come to £7 million a year,” a spokesman said.

“We will continue to support this important work

"In addition, it is important to recognise that high street betting shops also contribute over £27 million to greyhound racing in the form of media rights a year, and a further £1 million in sponsorship and prize money."