Greyhound racing should be banned in Wales, Senedd Committee agrees following petition

The outright ban was supported by four out of five Committee Members. Credit: PA

A dog charity’s campaign to end greyhound racing has won the support of Senedd Members, as calls grow for Wales to take the lead over other countries in the UK.

The Hope Rescue charity gained 35,101 signatures in their petition to the Welsh parliament as part of a growing movement calling for a UK-wide ban of the sport.

It's believed to be the most signed petition ever in Wales.

In a report published on Thursday (December 15), the majority of the Senedd’s Petitions Committee supported a phased ban of greyhound racing and proposed four further recommendations for the Welsh Government.

The Committee agreed that the improvement of welfare should be a priority for the entire life of animals - including puppies, racers and dogs in retirement. It also argued this would improve conditions for dogs bred in Wales for racing, as well as those traveling across the country to compete.

The outright ban was supported by four out of five Committee Members.

Wales is one of 10 countries in the world where commercial greyhound racing still exists legally. Credit: PA

Committee Chair, Jack Sargeant MS said: "Our number one priority has been the wellbeing of greyhounds and that was always our first reference point as we explored the issues raised by Hope Rescue in their petition. We are very grateful to everyone who contributed to our work and in particular to the petitioners who worked to get such a large number of signatures.

"While one Member could not support a ban, we are all agreed that the Welsh Government should consider all options when consulting on future arrangements, to ensure that the welfare of greyhounds is paramount – at all stages of their lives."

Senior Head of Operations at Hope Rescue, Vanessa Waddon, explained what the move would mean: "We have witnessed first-hand just how dangerous greyhound racing is, with dogs routinely injured or even killed. The industry also deliberately creates thousands of surplus dogs once they finish racing and expect animal welfare organisations to rescue their “wastage”. 

"The Petitions Committee reports sends a clear message to Welsh Government – and the greyhound racing industry – that it’s time to cut the chase and phase out greyhound racing in Wales."

Wales is one of 10 countries in the world where commercial greyhound racing still exists legally.

There is only one greyhound racing track which currently operates in Wales - The Valley Greyhound Stadium in Ystrad Mynach – with races once a week. Manager at the track, Malcolm Tams, has worked in the industry for 50 years and says the animals are treated fairly and that the sector has improved over time.

He argued that if the track was forced to close, it will affect the area because it is local attraction that brings money in and that they also take the burden off charities as a rehoming centre for greyhounds.

Furthermore, in responding to the recent Committee announcement, a spokesperson for the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) said they were "disappointed" that four members of the Petitions Committee are in favour of the ban.

"As their report makes very clear in its recommendations, however, there are a number of strong alternatives which would allow the sport to continue in a fully regulated environment thus protecting the welfare of dogs, the jobs and livelihoods of those involved in the sport and the revenue contribution the sport makes to the economy. Adopting these would align Wales with the rest of the country.

"The Petitions Committee’s recommendation that the Welsh Government should consider banning all sport with animals puts horse racing, fishing, dog agility and even pigeon racing on notice that they are next. We have always said that calls for a ban on greyhound racing are the thin end of the wedge and this recommendation proves that one hundred per cent", they added.

The Senedd Petition calling for a ban on greyhound racing in Wales reached a total of 35,101 signatures from across the globe - 18,707 of these were from Wales.