Concern is mounting for the safety of greyhounds being raced at four tracks across England this week despite temperatures reaching an all-time high.
Animal welfare campaigners from the League Against Cruel Sports and the greyhound welfare group Greyt Exploitations say races should be cancelled as temperatures breach 39C or 100.F in parts of the UK.
The greyhounds will be transported from their kennels and then paraded and raced at the tracks in the extreme conditions, putting them at risk of heatstroke, according to campaigners.
Nick Weston, Head of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “There have already been reports of dogs dying after just being walked in this heat, let alone racing.
"These races still going ahead despite the soaring temperatures is yet another clear example of how greyhound welfare is out far behind profit, and why this ‘sport’ needs to end in the UK.
"This flies in the face of the advice being given to animal lovers caring for their own pets during the current heatwave."
Five of the six greyhound races due to take place during the day yesterday were cancelled but racing went ahead at Sunderland.
The Greyhound Board of Britain GBGB, the self-regulatory body for greyhound racing in Great Britain, recently announced a new hot weather policy which states that greyhound racing should be cancelled at 34C or above.
This is despite the Society of Greyhound Veterinarians suggesting: “If the temperature is in the region of 28 to 30C serious consideration should be given to suspending racing and that racing should not take place in environmental temperatures in excess of 30C”.
Trudy Baker, Coordinator at Greyt Exploitations, said: "It is absolutely scandalous that while the RSPCA are advising to keep dogs in the cool when temperatures are hitting 30°C or more and the Society of Greyhound Vets has advised that racing should not take place in environmental temperatures in excess of 30°C.
"The GBGB’s new Hot Weather Policy uses a maximum temperature of 34°C at which dogs can race with no reference to humidity levels that play an important part in the dogs ability to keep cool."
"There is still no requirement for trainer’s vans or track kennels to have air-conditioning despite a previous incident where a greyhound died of heatstroke while being kennelled at a track"
Greyhound racing in the UK sees approximately 15,000 greyhounds being kept for racing at any one time. The greyhound industry figures indicate that nearly 1,000 greyhounds died last year. Many were put down trackside due to injuries.
Greyhounds stop racing at around three years old and many are put down as they are deemed as no longer valuable.
This article is based on a press release from the League Against Cruel Sports.