South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Animal Welfare spokesperson Colin Smyth has used a debate in the Scottish Parliament to praise the work of local greyhound rescue group Dumfriesshire and Cumbria Greyhound Rescue, as well as constituent Gill Don, from the abolish all greyhound racing campaign.
The local MSP was speaking on Thursday during a members’ debate on greyhound racing in Scotland, in which the local MSP backed calls for greyhound racing to be phased out, citing the high level of dog injuries, deaths, drugging and abandonment of geryhounds after they stopped racing. Colin Smyth also met with campaigners, and some retired greyhounds, outside the Scottish Parliament.
Speaking in the chamber, Colin Smyth said: “I do not believe that all those who have gone to a greyhound track over the years, had a bet on a race or even trained or raced greyhounds do not care about the dogs who are racing.
“Of course, many of them do care, but the reality is that racing a dog around an oval track at speeds in excess of 40mph, with the inevitable collisions and accidents with other dogs, rails and advertising boards, is undeniably cruel.
“What little is left of this largely unregulated so-called sport in Scotland is rife with not just injuries and deaths but the drugging of dogs and the casting aside of greyhounds when they are no longer deemed fit to race and therefore have no economic value.
“All of that is overseen by an industry that has consistently failed to bring about meaningful improvements. Its time is up and so, too, is greyhound racing. It is time to phase it out; it is time for a ban.”
Speaking of what happens once the dogs stop racing, he continued: “Thankfully, many dogs find new homes due to the outstanding work of many charities.
“In my South Scotland region, there was a greyhound track at Gretna until 2017. It is no coincidence that, in 2001, Dumfriesshire Greyhound Rescue, which now also covers Cumbria, was founded by Graham and Margaret Hill to rehome retired racing greyhounds.
“The Gretna track might have gone, but their outstanding work in rehoming those animals continues. Twenty years on, they have rehomed more than 1,860 dogs and have provided continuous care for up to 15 dogs at a time as they look for new homes. We owe them and all the charities that pick up the pieces of greyhound racing a real debt of gratitude.
“I also thank those who have—over many years, often in dark times when no one appeared to be listening—been vocal in their support of a ban on greyhound racing.
“They include my constituent Gill Don, from the abolish all greyhound racing campaign, who has raised the issue with me almost from the day I was elected, and Gill Docherty and Scotland Against Greyhound Exploitation, whose petition to Parliament is slowly but surely making progress. It has been signed by more than 13,000 people, making it the fifth most-signed petition in Parliament’s history.”