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Daily Record
Daily Record
Jonathan Geddes

'No way back for greyhound racing in Rutherglen', says area's MSP

There is "no way back" for dog racing in Rutherglen.

That's according to the area’s MSP, Clare Haughey, who made the comments after a debate in the Scottish Parliament discussed the “brutal reality” of the sport last week.

However, the Scottish Government have said they believe there is no need for stronger legislation to end the races, as the future of Shawfield Stadium remains unclear.

The long standing race track has not held any race meetings since before the coronavirus pandemic, and we recently told how the owners of the Rutherglen track have looked into demolishing the stadium.

Now MSPs in the Scottish Parliament have debated whether to ban the sport entirely.

Green Party MSP Mark Ruskell, who brought the motion, said: “Concerns about the levels of injuries and deaths of dogs at greyhound racing tracks across the UK have been growing, and the positions of bodies including the SSPCA, the RSPCA and Dogs Trust have now shifted decisively to back a phased ban on greyhound racing.

Rutherglen MSP Clare Haughey has said she does not want greyhound racing to return to the area (West Lothian Courier)

“Those calls for a ban do not come lightly. They are evidence based, and they follow years of patient working with the industry to drive reform of welfare standards. However, the attempts at reform have, unfortunately, failed.

“The latest data reported 197 injuries and 15 deaths between 2017 and 2020 at Shawfield stadium alone. The injuries data for Shawfield in 2020 nearly doubled.

“Fundamentally, greyhounds cannot be raced against one another at 40mph around a circular track in a way that does not expose the dogs to unacceptable risks of injury and death.”

Pictures earlier this year showed Shawfield in a state of disrepair, while recent revelations also showed a number of dogs had been found with drugs in their system after races, including cocaine.

That has prompted campaigners such as Gill Docherty of Scotland Against Greyhound Exploitation (SAGE) to seek further action.

Shawfield has become a "blight" on regeneration works in the area (RGR)

Ms Docherty told us: “We feel disappointed that they didn’t move to support an outright ban. Every single MSP who spoke in parliament last week supported a ban.

"The motion gained support from every party, which is not often the case and shows that there is strong support and it’s not a contentious issue.

"The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC) states their role is “providing scientific and ethical advice to government”, and they have stated that unregulated greyhound racing should not continue.”

Rutherglen’s MSP Clare Haughey has also called for the sport to be outlawed, and for Shawfield to be re-purposed.

She told Lanarkshire Live : “It was great to meet with campaigners and of course greyhounds at the Scottish Parliament.

“The campaigners do an excellent job in helping to rehome greyhounds and they have shone a light on the mistreatment and poor levels of care many of the racing dogs are subject to.

“With there being no greyhound racing at Shawfield Stadium since Covid, I sincerely hope there is no return to it locally and I would like to see the stadium repurposed in order to benefit the local community.”

Mairi McAllan, the Scottish Government minister for environment and land reform, said: “Like many other people, I am very concerned by the reports detailing injuries and deaths, particularly at Shawfield between 2017 and 2020.

"The Scottish Government takes those figures very seriously, as well as any other unnecessary injury or welfare concerns that are caused for any animal as a result of human activity, or for entertainment, as a number of members have reflected on.

“Against the backdrop of those shocking figures, we note the reported permanent closure of Shawfield stadium, having not reopened following the suspension of race meetings due to the pandemic. As members have reflected on, that leaves only one unlicensed track, in Fife...

“The Scottish Government appreciates the depth of feeling associated with this sport. The Scottish Government’s position is that the 2006 act, as it stands, is sufficient, but we are interested in how enforcement, particularly in the case of greyhound racing, can be improved."

Ms McAllan added that current penalties, which include unlimited fines or jail time of up to five years for those found to be abusing animals, ensured that action could be taken.

Governing body the Greyhound Board of Great Britain previously stated that their Greyhound Commitment showed they aimed to safeguard the animals.

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