A greyhound trainer has been banned for breaching animal welfare rules after neglecting a dog so badly it had to be euthanised.
A kennel inspector who discovered the emaciated animal said it was “the worst condition of a greyhound I have seen”, prompting critics of greyhound racing to call for it to be banned.
The greyhound, a bitch, was called Dudleys Forever and raced at Shawfield Stadium in Glasgow. It was so thin when found it weighed just over 16 kilograms and was put down by a vet a few hours later.
The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) said trainer, Chris Sillars, had broken animal welfare rules and banned him from racing greyhounds. An inquiry by the disciplinary committee of the GBGB was held in December.
A GBGB report said a steward at Shawfield Stadium called Alex McTaggart made a routine visit to Sillars’s kennels on 2 September 2019. McTaggart reported that one kennel block had nine greyhounds and there were four greyhounds in another non-registered block previously deemed unusable.
The GBGB’s report said: “One of these dogs, Dudleys Forever, a black bitch that had last raced at Shawfield on 24 November 2018, was in such poor condition that Mr McTaggart described it as ‘the worst condition of a greyhound I have seen’. Video evidence was presented to the committee. Mr McTaggart said that in his opinion this was a matter of animal cruelty.
“Mr McTaggart said that on the same afternoon as his visit, he had spoken by telephone to Mr Sillars who had informed him that Dudleys Forever was eating well, and had been to the vet two months previously. Mr McTaggart told Mr Sillars that the bitch needed to see a vet as a matter of urgency.
The report continued: “Mr Sillars complied and took the greyhound to Abbey Vet Group later that day. The veterinary report was given in evidence and stated that the bitch weighed 16.3 kg with a body condition score of 1/5. Further tests were not undertaken, and the bitch was euthanased.”
The committee was told that the following day McTaggart met Sillars who accepted it was not true that Dudleys Forever had been seen by a vet recently. The dog had last been seen by a vet on 2 December 2018 – 10 months previously.
The GBGB’s disciplinary committee viewed this as “a clear case of animal abuse”.
The GBGB report concluded: “The distressing video clip endorsed the opinion of a highly experienced stipendiary steward that this was the worst condition of a greyhound he had ever seen, and the committee concurred. The committee deplored the neglect of this greyhound and concluded that Mr Sillars had treated the greyhound with cruelty and in such a manner as to cause the greyhound unnecessary suffering.
“The deliberate decision of Mr Sillars not to seek veterinary attention was wholly unacceptable. 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 the details of the case to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in Edinburgh.”
Say No To Greyhound Racing In Scotland said: “The treatment of racing greyhounds in Scotland is absolutely appalling and this trainer must be prosecuted and feel the full force of the law. We would also like to see criminal prosecutions where greyhounds are doped with Class A and human prescription drugs.
“To date there have been no prosecutions in Scotland with 14 GBGB confirmed doping cases in the last two years at Shawfield track in Glasgow which includes five for cocaine. We will continue to campaign for as long as it takes to shut this disgraceful industry down in Scotland.”
A spokesperson for the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, said: “We have the highest expectations of welfare and care in our sport so there is no place in it for trainers like Mr Sillars. This was a clear case of animal neglect and cruelty and the independent disciplinary committee has rightly decided to remove Mr Sillars’ licence, ensuring that he is never allowed to participate in our sport again.”
The Ferret asked to see the video evidence presented to GBGB but it declined to release it.
According to the Irish Greyhound Board website, Dudleys Forever raced in Ireland before being exported to Scotland.
Sillars could not be contacted for comment. According to GBGB he had until 31 January 2019 to appeal its decision.
The Ferret reported in October 2020 that dozens of greyhounds at Shawfield had been doped. Steroids, beta blockers and prohormones – used by bodybuilders – were among other prohibited substances found in the bloodstreams of greyhounds at the Glasgow stadium since 2009.
Five of the 28 positive tests at Shawfield – Scotland’s only licensed track – involved cocaine, which is potentially fatal for dogs and can lead to seizures, strokes and heart attacks.
As well as those incidents, a trainer based in Edinburgh who races in England had three dogs tested positive for banned substances.
The report by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain
Photo thanks to iStock/magdaloubser.