An animal rights group has condemned the Greyhound Board of Great Britain for taking nearly five months to report a serious welfare breach to the authorities.
Campaign group Say No To Greyhound Racing in Scotland says the length of time it took for the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) to be informed about the death of a dog called Dudleys Forever is “utterly appalling”.
Dudleys Forever was neglected so badly by a trainer she had to be euthanised last September. The SSPCA told The Ferret that if it had been informed of the case sooner it would have “prepared a report for the procurator fiscal to consider a prosecution.”
The bitch raced at Shawfield Stadium in Glasgow. The greyhound was so thin when found she weighed just over 16 kilograms, and was put down by a vet a few hours later.
Dudleys Forever was discovered by an inspector at Sillars’ kennels on 2 September 2019. The inspector who discovered the emaciated animal said it was “the worst condition of a greyhound I have seen”.
The GBGB was notified that Sillars had relinquished his licence in a letter dated 31 August 2019. This was stamped as received by the GBGB on 5 September 2019.
A local inquiry took place at Shawfield Stadium on 9
After another inquiry on 17 December 2019 at Shawfield, the GBGB’s disciplinary committee ruled that Sillars had broken animal welfare rules, stating it was a “a clear case of animal abuse”.
The committee considered the offence to be a prima facie breach of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, and urged the GBGB to send details of the case to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in Edinburgh.”
The GBGB reported the case to COPFS on 24 January 2020.
The COPFS referred the GBGB to Police Scotland, who, in turn, referred it to the SSPCA.
The SSPCA said it was notified of the case in February 2020. But because the legal timeframe for reporting animal welfare offences to the procurator fiscal is six months, the SSPCA said it only had three weeks to gather “independent evidence” and prepare a report, and was unable to do so.
Say No To Greyhound Racing in Scotland, which reported the case to Police Scotland in January, told The Ferret: “This is a shocking case and Dudleys Forever has received no justice for the suffering she endured.
“We ourselves reported this case to the appropriate authorities in mid-January but the true culprits here, apart from Police Scotland for not acting quickly enough, are the Greyhound Board of Great Britain. That it took a full five months for the SSPCA to be officially informed by the GBGB is utterly appalling.
“This time delay is commonplace and smacks of delaying tactics to protect their own. Racing greyhounds are the forgotten dogs in this country and that is wholly wrong.”
The Ferret understands that the GBGB’s disciplinary findings were shared with the SSPCA on 11 February, with case files and additional evidence provided a day later on 12 February.
The SSPCA said: “The evidence of potential animal welfare offences regarding these greyhounds came to our attention in February 2020. By this stage, the evidence was five months old.
“As the legal timeframe for reporting animal welfare offences to the procurator fiscal is six months, we only had approximately three weeks to gather independent evidence and prepare a report. Unfortunately, we were unable to do so.
The SSPCA did act on the evidence it received, however, and said it “ensured the safety” of other greyhounds at the property.
The animal welfare charity added: “I am pleased to say the greyhounds at this site were signed over into our care and rehomed to loving homes and it is such a shame to hear one of the greyhounds passed away.
The SSPCA said that incidents or allegations of cruelty should be reported to either Police Scotland or the Scottish SPCA as soon as possible.
“Had the information about these greyhounds been brought to our attention sooner, we certainly would have prepared a report for the procurator fiscal to consider a prosecution,” a spokesperson for the SSPCA said.
A spokesperson for the Greyhound Board of Great Britain said: “The health, wellbeing and happiness of racing greyhounds is paramount in our sport. As regulator, GBGB has zero tolerance of any mistreatment of greyhounds and enforces the strictest sanctions on any individual found to have neglected a greyhound in any way.
“In the case of Mr Sillars, we immediately suspended his licence and moved all licensed racing greyhounds at his property to alternative racing kennels or homing centres to safeguard their welfare. Following the outcome of an independent disciplinary inquiry, he was banned from our sport for life.”
COPFS said: “Our enquiry point received an email on Friday 24 January. As an organisation that is not a reporting agency to COPFS we referred them (GBGB) to Police Scotland.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We received a report on Thursday 6 February, 2020, relating to a potential animal cruelty incident in Glasgow. The details were passed to the Scottish SPCA that same day.”
Sillars could not be contacted.
This article was updated at 10.05 on 11 November 2020 to state that the GBGB inquiry was held on 9 September 2020, not December as initially reported.
This article was updated at 15.09on 12 November 2020 to clarify that a local inquiry took place at Shawfield on 9 September, followed by another inquiry by the GBGB disciplinary committee on 17 December 2020.