With all BGC members who take bets on greyhounds now signed up to the British Greyhound Racing Fund, the sport can take its welfare ambitions one step further.
The news that all BGC members who take bets on greyhound racing will now pay into the British Greyhound Racing Fund (BGRF) was warmly welcomed across the greyhound racing community. Not only does this extra £1 million mean we can continue to fund our vital welfare work, it also means we can start to look to the future with optimism following a challenging year for us all.
As you would expect, greyhound welfare is very much at the heart of our sport and it is imperative we uphold the highest standards to ensure the future survival and prosperity of British greyhound racing. Put simply, without happy, healthy and well-cared for greyhounds, we have no sport.
Whilst everyone works tirelessly to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our canine athletes, we can only do so if we have sufficient funding. Indeed, 75 per cent of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain’s own funding is directly spent on welfare and we rely heavily on the voluntary contributions of BGC members in order to meet the pledges set out in our Greyhound Commitment.
Through our Greyhound Commitment, which is our blueprint for the way greyhound racing is run with welfare at its heart, we seek to ensure that greyhounds receive the very best care throughout their careers.
Each year we review our progress against each of the Commitment’s eight pledges, identify areas for improvement and develop initiatives aimed at improving welfare standards further. This ensures that funding is directed to the places where it is needed most and where it can make a real difference.
Our Injury Recovery Scheme (IRS) is one such initiative borne out of the Commitment. Launched in 2018, the IRS provides financial assistance towards the veterinary treatment of injuries sustained at GBGB licensed racecourses. The scheme seeks to ensure that career-ending injuries are not life-ending and that greyhounds are able to enjoy a long, healthy and happy retirement. Since the scheme was introduced, nearly 600 greyhounds have benefited and with the extra funding from BGC members we can continue this vital work.
Likewise, having identified a need for more retired greyhounds to be found suitable, loving forever homes, we launched the Greyhound Retirement Scheme (GRS) last September. This ground-breaking scheme ensures the financial costs of homing a greyhound are met before a greyhound starts racing, thereby securing their retirement before they have even set foot on the track.
Under the GRS, a £400 bond – paid for jointly by owners and GBGB – is attached to each newly-registered racing greyhound. The full bond is unlocked when a greyhound enters an approved homing centre and goes towards associated homing costs such as kennelling, feeding and caring for a greyhound until a home is found.
A scheme like this had never been introduced before, but given the success of its first six months, it is clear that the scheme works. Indeed, since September, over 1,000 greyhounds have benefited from the GRS and are now being well cared for in one of the 120 GBGB-approved homing centres or in a suitable forever home.
As well as ensuring the sport is run with integrity, safeguarding greyhound welfare will always be a priority for us. We are therefore very grateful for the extra funding from BGC members. There is, however, always more we could and should be doing and I look forward to maintaining a constructive and positive relationship with all BGC members so that we can continue to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our racing greyhounds, thereby guaranteeing the future prosperity of our sport.
Mark Bird is the managing director of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain