Dog welfare experts have produced a ground-breaking new code of practice which they hope could transform the welfare of racing greyhounds in Wales.
Members of the Animal Welfare Network for Wales (AWNW) have today announced the launch of a new voluntary code of practice, which it hopes the industry will adopt to meet the needs of greyhounds used for racing.
The code includes up-to-date science and key steps which racing track operators should take to meet the needs of competing greyhounds.
It was developed by an AWNW working group, chaired by Greyhound Rescue Wales’ Alain Thomas, following a request for action from the Welsh Government. Dr Nicola Rooney and Dr Samantha Gaines, the RSPCA’s head of companion animals, co-authored the code.
Guidance includes the training of greyhounds, management at the track, vet attendance at meetings, dog breeding, transportation, biosecurity and sale. The advice is intended to ensure their welfare needs are sufficiently met throughout a dog’s involvement in the greyhound racing industry.
Currently one greyhound track operates in Wales. This is an independent track – known as a ‘flapping track’, so is not affiliated to the Greyhound Board of Great Britain; and is one of only four such independent courses in the UK.
No other UK nation has developed a code of this nature – and the publication of the document is regarded as a major step forward for Wales which, to date, has lacked specific greyhound legislation which exists in other countries, such as neighbouring England.
Mr Thomas of Greyhound Rescue Wales said: “For too long, racing greyhounds in Wales have not been afforded the legal protections they so clearly need.
“The Animal Welfare Network for Wales is so proud to have published a new voluntary code of practice – which offers a blueprint for enhanced welfare standards and care for racing greyhounds. We were delighted to be asked by Welsh Government to pull this together; and indeed the detailed Code considers greyhound welfare from birth, to retirement and beyond.
“We now urge owners of racing greyhounds in Wales to adopt this code; something we believe would show great commitment to dog welfare and potentially transform the prospects for those competing.
“Ultimately the AWNW is proud to have published a comprehensive guide that will drive up welfare standards and ensure a safer, more compassionate and welfare-friendly environment for these beautiful animals when racing and competing in the industry.”
The AWNW is an independent sector council, where members work together to act as a voice for all of Wales’ animals – with a huge variance in species represented by members. The development of a voluntary code of practice for racing greyhounds compliments work the Network has done on updating statutory codes of practice for the welfare of dogs, cats and equines for the Welsh Government, advising on issues such as primate welfare in Wales, and taking proactive action to prevent livestock worrying.