The reality of a China ban

There have been recent calls, mainly from the more extreme end of the anti-greyhound racing fraternity, to ban the exports of all greyhounds except those that occur between the British Isles and the Island of Ireland.  The apparent motivation behind these calls is to prevent the export of greyhounds to China or other countries without comprehensive welfare laws to protect the dogs. According to what is being posted by the groups on social media, it remains unclear whether the ban would be just commercial exports or would include the movement of dogs with their owners. Whatever may be the case I would like to unpick the argument and have a look at it a little closer.

Despite the lurid headlines that appeared in some of the tabloids, the number of greyhounds being exported to China is very few, and these greyhounds aren’t being raced half to death and then eaten at the end of their days as was claimed.  Any suggestion that that is the case is too ridiculous to be given any attention, but what it has done is raise the issue of exporting greyhounds to China.  We are being assured that greyhounds are the biggest group of dogs in the meat markets; this is also untrue.  Organisations that do sterling work rescuing dogs from the meat markets have explained that most of the dogs are coming from ordinary markets where people are selling their unwanted pet dogs and the vendors aren’t particularly concerned where their once loved pets end up.  There is also the other large group of meat trade dogs and those are the stolen pet dogs and stray dogs.  Our own British MPs who are proposing that we introduce our own domestic ban on the consumption of dog meat have done their own research and have established that roughly 70% of the dogs in the meat trade were pet dogs.  All that having been said, we are left with the serious problem of there being no welfare laws in China that can protect the greyhounds (or any dog for that matter)  A further problem as it relates to China is that Facebook and other social media platforms are banned by the Chinese government and bypassing those laws is rather complicated and risky, therefore very little evidence is available to counter the claims of the anti-racing organisations that greyhounds are routinely abused within Chinese racing circles.  Videos showing very well cared for dogs in high standard kennels do exist, but the general atmosphere is now one of doubting whatever is done or said to show that many Chinese people involved with greyhounds can and do care for them very well indeed.  Now before I’m jumped on for being an apologist for breeders or trainers who have exported dogs to China, I’ll make something very clear; I wouldn’t export a dog to China for the simple reason that China is a closed country and I just don’t know enough about it.  Until there is transparency and accountability I would never advocate, support or excuse any exports to China.

I really don’t know whether the following was intended or not but another result of all this is to expose some of the most disgusting racist language that I’ve seen for many a long year.  This is quite surprising given that the followers of the anti-racing lobby seem to be of the ‘right on’ politically correct leaning.  Perhaps it demonstrates just how willing people are to turn their activism into outright hatred when it suits them.  This of course has gone beyond China to any country where the people have brown skin being an unfit place for greyhounds.  Can it really be correct that the only place where greyhounds can be cared for is the UK and the only people who can do it properly are white British people?

Now, turning to the logistics of a ban.  At the moment, dogs are ‘property’ and unless that property is one of the items that it is prohibited to export without a specific licence, like armaments, then greyhounds, like any other property, can be sold to anyone who wants to buy them.  This is regardless of where the purchaser may live.  You may not like it, I may not like it, but that’s the law as it is.  The GBGB and the IGB cannot change that law, but what they can do is impose their own sanctions on people who are caught out being involved in the export of dogs to countries which lack welfare laws.  How much effect that would have is debatable, particularly if dogs are sold as ‘retired’ dogs to an unlicensed person and that person then sells the dogs to China.  When laws are put in place, very inventive and dishonest people work out ways to break those laws and there’s no reason to believe that a ban on greyhound exports would be different.  Furthermore, a ban would make the export of greyhounds even more secretive and even more difficult to detect, we all need to think about that.  In the unlikely event of a ban on the export of greyhounds out of the British Isles and Ireland put in place there would be consequences, and many of those consequences are undesirable.  It would be very difficult to get a law that applies to one breed of dog only and if it did, it would be relatively easy to circumvent.  Further to that, where would that leave the dogs that are currently ‘exported’ to their forever homes in Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic and so on?  I saw a suggestion that greyhounds can be exported to recognised rescue/rehoming organisations, well who’s going to police that?  Who is going to decide which rescue/rehoming organisation is fit to do the job?  I could discuss the problems around a ban as is suggested by the anti-racing fraternity until the cows come home but nobody is going to want to read a 10,000 word essay on the subject, but what I will say is; be careful what you wish for!  Consider the problematic unintended consequences of the breed specific legislation!

So what we have at present is a campaign for legislation that would be unworkable and unenforceable and so would be a non-starter.  But perhaps even worse than that, the campaigning has allowed every closet racist that hides behind an animal rights banner a platform to vent their odious views.

Jane Conway

Open race times

All tracks have huge varying going allowances! Thanks to your times which are not correct greyhound data has devalued all the dogs by going by your times. Thanks.

Seb Davies

The letter above clearly relates to our recent Open Race Time Check which has proven fantastically popular. We studied well in excess of 10,000 open race results and determined what times a dog would need to achieve to have an ‘excellent’ chance of winning an open race or a ‘decent’ chance. We did this on the basis of the top 10% and 50% of winning times, respectively.

We didn’t include going allowances due to inconsistencies between how different racing offices judge going allowances, or in some cases, seem to put very little effort into assessing changes in going.

As for greyhound-data using our times to calculate their performance charts, we have no control over how they apply the data. They may decide that the 90% figure (eg 29.59 – Nottingham 500m) equates to a rating of 90, 100 or 110, or any other figure. That is their subjective decision and one you should take up with them.