Greens to seek greyhound racing ban in Scotland

Just one greyhound track remains in Scotland
Mark Ruskell is to publish a Bill to ban greyhound racing. Photo: David Davies/PA WireMark Ruskell is to publish a Bill to ban greyhound racing. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire
Mark Ruskell is to publish a Bill to ban greyhound racing. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire

A Scottish Green MSP is to publish a Bill to ban greyhound racing.

Mark Ruskell has met Scottish Government officials to discuss the best path forward for the legislation to ban what he calls the “cruel” sport.

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Just one greyhound track remains in Scotland, at Thornton in Fife, but the body which represents racing in the UK has said a ban could be worse for the welfare of the animals and greater regulation instead should be considered.

The proposals will be detailed in a consultation, one of the first steps in the introduction of a member’s Bill.

Mr Ruskell said: “This cruel practice has no place in modern Scotland, greyhound racing is beyond reform and it’s time to bring it finally to an end.

“All the evidence is there, from the deaths and the injuries to the investigations of those who champion animal welfare every day.

“The inherent risks of racing dogs at 40mph around a curved track are too great, it’s dangerous and unethical.

“Yet still there are some who refuse to accept that their race is run. Therefore I am compelled to introduce a Bill at the Scottish Parliament that will bring in new laws to phase the races out.

“We cannot stand idly by and allow greyhounds to die, be injured or left abandoned. It is time to take action and I hope MSP colleagues will fully support my Bill.”

Official figures released last year by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) showed there had been 22,284 dog injuries recorded in the UK between 2018 and 2022, while 2,718 died during the same period due to a number of factors, although the annual number of deaths has dropped around two thirds in that time.

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Of those, 367 suffered a sudden death, while 868 were put down on humane grounds at a racecourse.

Mark Bird, the chief executive of GBGB, pointed to a recent consultation document published by the Scottish Government, where it said an outright ban on racing “is not, at this time, necessary”, but admitted that the practice was in essence “unregulated” in Scotland.

The Thornton track does not currently operate under rules laid out by GBGB.

The consultation document, which laid out the Government’s position, while asking for the views of the public, also described the number of deaths and injuries between 2018 and 2021 as “very concerning”.

“In conclusion, the Scottish Government considers that there is a strong case for the introduction of a statutory licensing scheme for greyhound racing in Scotland,” the document said.

“The introduction of such a scheme would improve greyhound welfare require transparency around the recording and reporting of key data, and ensure that there is accountability when greyhound welfare is compromised.”

Mr Bird said: “We share the views of the Scottish Government, as set out in their recent consultation on the licensing of animal activities, that any greyhound racing in Scotland must have effective oversight and reliably high welfare standards.

“In our evidence to the Rural Affairs and Islands (RAI) Committee and the Government’s consultation, we not only explained the extensive systems and policies in place under our regulation but also expressed our willingness to support Scotland’s one unlicensed track to come under our remit.

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“We believe that greater regulation is the only successful way to protect and promote greyhound welfare and that GBGB’s licensing system offers an effective existing solution for doing so within Scotland.

“A ban on greyhound racing would only risk animal welfare.

“Welfare is absolutely paramount in licensed greyhound racing and everyone involved puts the health and wellbeing of greyhounds at the heart of everything they do.

“Our annual data provides firm, unequivocal proof that our already strong welfare standards are improving and that the initiatives we are putting in place are the right ones.”

But in June, under questioning in Holyrood from Mr Ruskell, First Minister Humza Yousaf said he was “more than happy to look at how we can give further effect to Mark Ruskell’s ask” adding that there was “further for us to go” on animal welfare.



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