Activists’ fury as Henlow dog races continue in sweltering heatwave

PUBLISHED: 15:59 10 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:07 10 July 2018

Dog racing at Henlow. File photo. Picture: Archant

Dog racing at Henlow. File photo. Picture: Archant

Archant

Animal rights activists have slammed Henlow’s dog track for continuing to hold races amid temperatures of up to 31°C.

Henlow Stadium, one of the 23 licensed greyhound racing tracks in Britain. Picture: Google Street ViewHenlow Stadium, one of the 23 licensed greyhound racing tracks in Britain. Picture: Google Street View

The Greyhound Board of Great Britain has circulated hot weather warnings to its licensed greyhound stadiums, but vets at each individual track make the call on whether races go ahead.

The RSPCA has expressed grave concern about racing in “extremes of temperature”, and called for it to be banned.

The Shut Down Henlow Greyhound Stadium campaign, which holds vigils outside the track on race days, told the Comet that in their view dogs should not be raced in heat above 22°C.

“At a time when the nation is being warned about taking their dogs for a walk in this heatwave, we do not believe that greyhounds should be transported and raced in extreme temperatures,” a campaign spokesman said.

“Greyhounds are very heat sensitive – more so than other dogs. Before each race each dog should be examined by the track vet, but due to time constraints the vet only gets a maximum of 60 seconds per dog to carry this out. This is not enough time.

“The fact that GBGB is completely ignoring concerns raised by both the RSPCA and Dogs Trust is abhorent, and a clear example of how little they think of the dogs they make their money from.”

In a statement, the RSPCA said: “The Greyhound Forum, of which we are a key member, is shocked that some tracks continue to allow greyhounds to race in extremes of temperature. The last week has seen some of the highest recorded figures in the UK and yet races have continued.

“Although GBGB have circulated their hot weather warnings to members, current rules mean tracks do not have to halt racing in such conditions, and so races have taken place.”

Greyhound Board of Great Britain veterinary director Dr Simon Gower insisted that he and GBGB had given “robust advice” to trainers and tracks about racing in the current heatwave.

He said: “The welfare of the dogs is paramount to GBGB and if there are concerns at a particular meeting then we must trust that the licensed officials, including the vet, will act in the best interests of the dogs.

“If a vet feels that conditions are unsafe, then it is their role as arbiter for the safety of the dogs to make a decision and advise the racecourse executive accordingly.

“The track vet is the guardian of the welfare of the greyhounds, and a decision based on local conditions cannot be made centrally.”

The Comet has approached Henlow Stadium for comment.

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