A complaint by the greyhound racing regulator over a billboard highlighting dog deaths in the sport has been rejected after the advert was found to be accurate.
The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that a billboard highlighting greyhound deaths could cause distress to both racegoers and their employees, and that it was misleading.
The billboard was the first in a series of digital posters due to be displayed across the UK as part of a campaign opposing greyhound racing by Caged Nationwide.
It was erected nearby Owlerton greyhound racing track, Sheffield, in June 2022, and showed an image of a muzzled greyhound with text alongside it stating: “Greyhound Racing KILLS”. Smaller text underneath the image read: “Every licensed track has a freezer to store the dead dogs”.
In its complaint to ASA, the GBGB challenged both those claims.
Hundreds of dogs have died though and earlier this year The Ferret revealed that 15 greyhounds died and 197 injuries to animals were recorded at Shawfield Stadium, Glasgow, between 2017 and 2020.
Official data from the GBGB also revealed then that during the same period there were 3,153 greyhound deaths and 18,345 recorded injuries across the UK.
Animal welfare campaigners described the statistics as “appalling” and they called for the sport to be banned.
As part of the campaign to end greyhound racing Caged Nationwide produced its billboard, prompting the GBGB’s complaint to ASA.
Responding to the complaint, Caged Nationwide cited figures published by the GBGB for the number of greyhounds who were injured or died while racing.
In addition, the campaign group pointed out there would be greyhounds killed by euthanasia on economical grounds and in cases where they were not rehomable.
Caged Nationwide made ASA aware of the GBGB rule 110B, which requires that a vet attending a greyhound track has access either to a room, or a mobile facility, which has a freezer suitable for the storage of greyhound carcasses.
ASA concluded that Caged Nationwide’s claim that “Greyhound racing KILLS” had been substantiated and was “not likely to mislead”. Regarding the claim that “Every licensed track has a freezer to store the dead dogs”, ASA concluded this had also been substantiated and was not misleading.
As a result of ASA’s decision, Caged Nationwide said it will now be publishing similar billboards across the UK in the “interests of public awareness” and to encourage people to “carry out their own research and make a well informed decision” before they attend a race track or gamble on dogs.
Rita Jones, director of Caged Nationwide, told The Ferret: “I find it unfortunate that the racing industry feel the content on our billboard may have created upset for their employees. However, we do not believe this could compare whatsoever to the distress likely to be felt by their own track vets and other members of staff, whose reality is to actually witness a dog being destroyed almost each day at British race tracks due to fatal collisions.”
A spokesperson for GBGB said that “targeted, highly-sensationalised” campaigns which rely on “shock tactics” only serve to “create fear and anxiety” amongst members of the general public. “As a highly-regulated and welfare-centric sport, licensed greyhound racing puts the health and wellbeing of greyhounds above all else,” the spokesperson added.
“Campaigns like this ignore the robust policies and practices which are in place to protect and promote the safety of all racing greyhounds at all times. Whilst on this occasion, the ASA have not upheld our complaint, on previous occasions this year they have and so we will continue to challenge these underhand tactics which paint a false picture of greyhound racing and which are distressing for the thousands of people employed in the sport.”
The full ASA decision can be read here.