Archive for Racing animals

Public “not fooled” on Grand National welfare

As today’s Grand National horserace gets underway at Aintree, new opinion polling suggests public concern over the welfare of participating horses.

Since 1996, fourteen horses have died during or shortly after the race, which is often considered the key fixture in Britain’s horseracing calendar. Last year, eight year-old ‘Hear the Echo’ died near the end of the course. His death brought to eighty the total number of horses to have died at the Grand National.

Polling by YouGov on behalf of the League Against Cruel Sports shows that when informed about the number of deaths as a result of the Grand National, 65% said they believe officials should make changes to decrease the risk to horses with some 48% thinking that fences should be lowered and 28% thinking that the number of horses taking part should be reduced. Sixty per-cent of the public declare some interest in the race, according to the poll, with 32% watching and betting for money.

A spokesman for the League said that whilst the numbers of people having a flutter remain high, there are signs of concern about animal welfare. “Aintree will tell you that the welfare of horses is their number one concern, but the obvious truth is that profit will always come first. These polling figures show that only a small minority of the public think the current racecourse is acceptable in welfare terms.”

“If human participants in sports died at the rate suffered by horses in the Grand National, there would be outcry,” the spokesman said. “But somehow the beautiful and majestic creatures are seen as expendable resources, there to allow us to make a few quid when we hedge our bets. We need a change in approach which values their lives above the bookies’ profits.”

The League, which doesn’t call for a ban on horseracing but instead insists on welfare improvements, is asking its supporters to email Heineken chiefs to call on them to use their sponsorship power to call for improvements. John Smith’s Bitter, owned by Heineken, has sponsored the Grand National since 2005.

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Image of the Day – 120

It’s a depressing fact that the greyhound racing industry still has people within it who avoid paying the voluntary welfare levy. Defra’s new greyhound regulations do nothing to help resolve that. All we have been asking for – since the days of our William Hill campaign – is for a penny in the pound.

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Parliamentary Briefing – February

Our monthly Parliamentary Briefing for February has been published. Topics include:
  • A new look for the League
  • Keep Cruelty History campaign
  • Debunking the hunters’ arguments
  • Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations
  • Majority of MLAs back a ban on snares
  • Scottish Parliament considers snaring petition
  • “Rock solid” support for Hunting Act as it reaches fifth anniversary

The Briefing is sent to all MPs, Peers, PPCs, AMs, MLAs and MSPs.

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A bad week for greyhounds

Last spring, the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) published a public consultation document on their Draft Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations.

The League was delighted to see the government taking the issue of racing greyhound welfare seriously, and we felt that proposed new regulations were a logical next step after administrative changes and the creation of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain to have a statutory role overseeing the multi-million pound greyhound racing industry.

Animal welfare charities including the League, Dog’s Trust and the RSPCA were pleased to see a full and open consultation process, and we took a semi-collaborative approach to responding. In the end well over a thousand animal welfare charities responded to the consultation.

The bitter pill in all this is that the government may just as well left those animal welfare responses in the envelope in which they arrived. Government failed to act on any of the recommedations made by animal welfare organisations. We had wasted our time and it was a punch in the guts.

Towards Christmas, the consultation over, the government published the regulations which required the approval of Parliament. They were presented to Parliament and then withdrawn, and then presented again. The House of Commons and the House of Lords both considered the regulations this week, and passed them without amendment.

Despite this all being depressing stuff, we were encouraged to see questions raised in the Lords about the problems we had flagged up. One of the key issues for us is that whilst greyhound tracks are required to keep records in relation to the dogs that race at that track, together with information on injuries and other incidents, there is no requirement to disclose those records to any external third party, thus rendering the whole record keeping process rather pointless.

Despite all this, we will continue in our campaign on greyhound racing, applying pressure to politicians and government to force this industry to pull its socks up and give a lot more consideration to the dogs that line their pockets.

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Greyhounds whitewash at Parliament

Any moment now, a House of Commons Committee is meeting to discuss the government’s Draft Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations, with a view to their approval. A Lords Committee will do the same this afternoon.

Our staff are in Parliament all day to lobby against these proposals which clearly do nothing for the welfare of racing greyhounds and are, in fact, little more than a charter for gamblers and crooks. Given that, by this morning, 165 MPs had signed a Commons motion calling for debate on the matter whilst only 52 and signed in favour of the Regulations as they are, it is clear that we’re not alone in our unhappiness.

One of the key faults in the Regulations relates to record keeping. The Regulations include a requirement on the greyhound racetracks to keep accurate records of the dogs that race there, their owners, their health and welfare, and their performance. A good thing, you might think; except that the record keeping is pointless as the records are private and not available to the public! Imagine the prisons inspector being told she couldn’t actually enter a prison, and you have a similar arrangement.

We have high hopes that those MPs who claim to care for greyhound welfare – including Fabian Hamilton and Andrew Rosindell – will do something about it, and not simply wave the Regulations through.

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Dara’s dead greyhound

A racing greyhound part-owned by Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain has been killed following an injury sustained while in a race.

Snip Nua, at the tender age of 19 months, competed in just 7 races before she was deemed a financial liability by her 16 affluent syndicate members, to include the Business Editor of the Irish Times – Frank McNally and of course, the ‘joker’ in the pack, Dara O’Briain. Her final race – in which she sustained a broken hock – was at Harold’s Cross track on 14th December.

Find out more about our greyhound campaign.

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Have you taken action to help Greyhounds?

The government are about to present regulations covering the greyhound racing industry to the House of Commons in the next few days. Please take action now and ask your MP to add his or her disapproval by signing Early Day Motion 386 which calls on the government to give the House of Commons the opportunity to consider the regulations in more detail.

Greyhound racing can involve much unnecessary cruelty, behind the scenes. But because greyhounds don’t often die on the track, most people don’t give it a second thought.

So we were delighted when, earlier this year, the government published draft rules and regulations and asked organisations like the League to give their views. The government has now read everyone’s comments and has decided to ignore them all. In fact, the only change they are making to the draft is to make rules about kennelling only apply to newly built kennels.

Some people say that the new regulations offer some improvements but they miss the point. If these regulations are accepted, future governments will simply say that greyhound welfare has been dealt with and they will ignore the issue. But if the regulations are debated, we can force future governments to keep a very close eye on this issue and make improvements to greyhound welfare.

Please click here and ask your MP to sign EDM 386 for the sake of the tens of thousands of greyhounds caught up in this cruel sport.

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