Campaigners have said “the end of greyhound racing in Scotland is in sight” amid calls to close the country’s last operating track.
The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC) has backed the closure of the unlicensed Thornton Greyhound Stadium in Kirkcaldy, Fife.
In April, Scotland Against Greyhound Exploitation (SAGE) gave evidence of greyhound abuse, doping, neglect and injury to the rural affairs committee.
Following this, the committee wrote to the SAWC asking for the commission’s views on greyhound racing, especially on unlicensed operations running in Scotland.
In its response the SAWC specified that it does not support unlicensed racing, as the continuation of the sport requires special measures to “protect dog welfare”.
SAGE hailed this response on Monday as a signal that “the end of greyhound racing is in sight”.
In a statement on the group’s Facebook page, it said: “The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission backs the closure of Thornton Greyhound Stadium – the last remaining active greyhound racing track in the country – and an end to all unregulated greyhound racing in Scotland!
“At our evidence session in front of the RAINE committee in April of this year, we described to MSPs the abject lack of welfare measures at unregulated tracks, stating that the dogs racing at Thornton Greyhound Stadium in Fife are among the most vulnerable dogs in the country.”
At the time the petition was filed, the unlicensed track in Fife was one of two remaining greyhound tracks in Scotland.
The other being Shawfield Stadium in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, which never reopened after lockdown.
Shawfield is the country’s only track approved by racing body the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB).
In evidence given to the committee in April, the group said Thornton Greyhound Stadium did not have vets present in order to ensure the welfare of the dogs. It also claimed that the track did not conduct drug testing.
It stated that while only 2% of races at the old Shawfield track were tested, there were 13 dogs that tested positive for drugs between 2018 and 2019 alone – with five testing positive for cocaine.
The petitioner, Gill Docherty, said: “If that is the evidence from a track that tested in only 2% of races, we feel that the rate of doping will be much higher at Thornton, and it is going completely unchecked.”
The Scottish Greens also backed the closure of the stadium on Tuesday, calling greyhound racing “cruelty masquerading as entertainment”.
The party’s environment spokesperson, Mark Ruskell MSP, said: “Greyhound racing belongs in a by-gone age where animal cruelty masqueraded as entertainment – its days are now numbered in Scotland.
“Just as we banned the use of wild animals in travelling circuses so the last remaining active greyhound track in Scotland should now close.
“The weight of expert and scientific opinion must not be ignored by government.
“Sending dogs at 40mph round a track where they can collide with each other is barbaric and all the data shows it comes at an unacceptable cost of death and injury.”