The Welsh Government is to launch a consultation on phasing out greyhound racing in Wales, in a “huge moment” for dog welfare.

Yesterday (Wednesday, February 15)), the Minister for Rural Affairs, who is responsible for animal welfare in Wales, confirmed to Senedd members that she has now responded to a recent Petitions Committee report, which saw a majority of Members back phasing out the sport in Wales. The Minister confirmed she has accepted, or accepted in principle, all recommendations from the Committee - bar one.

Recommendations supported by the Minister include "that Welsh Government action should include a phased ban on greyhound racing in Wales" - which would result in the sport no longer taking place in the country. The announcement follows campaigning on the issue from the RSPCA - alongside Hope Rescue, Blue Cross, Dogs Trust and Greyhound Rescue Wales, who are all part of the ‘Cut the Chase’ campaign.

Wales is one of only ten countries in the world - including all other UK nations - where commercial greyhound racing continues in 2023.

RSPCA welfare experts fear greyhounds are needlessly placed at serious risk of painful injuries and death when competing in organised greyhound racing.

Dr Samantha Gaines, head of the RSPCA’s companion animals department, said:

“This is a huge moment for dog welfare - with the Welsh Government committing to a consultation on cutting the chase, by phasing out greyhound racing in Wales.

“With no vets at the track in Wales, and no requirement to publish statistics on injuries or deaths, it’s hard to gauge the true scale of welfare problems caused by greyhound racing in Wales.

“However, so long as this sport is allowed to continue, dogs are needlessly put at risk of serious injury and death all in the name of entertainment.”

A Senedd petition backing a ban was signed by more than 35,000 people, and led to the Petitions Committee publishing a report which called for the sport to be phased out - a recommendation supported by all but one Committee Member.

Samantha added: “While once a sport deeply ingrained in British culture, the greyhound racing industry has been declining. This is a positive reflection of a modern and conscientious society, and the support for this Senedd petition calling for a ban on greyhound racing demonstrates the groundswell of public support against this sport too.

“We’re proud to have worked closely with a number of other dog welfare charities to call for the sport to be brought to an end - and today’s announcement from the Minister marks a huge step forward to achieving that.

“The RSPCA now looks forward to working closely with the Welsh Government, and Members of the Senedd across the chamber to further highlight why we need a ban - and to ensure Wales takes a lead in the UK by phasing out greyhound racing, and protecting the welfare of the wonderful dogs currently put at risk by this dangerous sport.”

In Wales, no specific statutory regulation or laws exist governing greyhound racing - unlike in England.

However, the RSPCA does not believe regulation will offer sufficient protections for greyhound welfare - and that phasing out the sport is the only solution.

Wales' only remaining racing track is also not licensed - but RSPCA Cymru believes licensing does not solve the issue and doesn't afford each and every dog with a good quality of life, so has instead urged decision-makers in Wales to phase out the sport.

The charity recently undertook a comprehensive internal review - alongside the Dogs Trust - which demonstrated serious concerns at every stage of a racing greyhound's life, including issues around inadequate welfare standards in kennelling and transporting the dogs.

A debate is due to take place on March 8 in the Senedd concerning the petition.

The report - 'The Final Bend? P-06-1253 Ban greyhound racing in Wales' - made five recommendations in total, including considering the welfare of dogs travelling through Wales on their way to races, and for the Welsh Government to work with the industry on how they can comply with any new rules or regulations.

The only recommendation in the Petitions Committee report not supported by the Minister was one stating that when “considering a ban on greyhound racing, the Welsh Government should also look at other sports where animals compete”.

More information on the Cut the Chase campaign can be found on the RSPCA’s website.