A PETITION to ban greyhound racing in Wales has been signed by more than 25,000 people as Wales’ only track aims to get its professional licence.

At the time of writing, 27,334 people have signed a petition set up by animal rescue charity Hope Rescue to have the sport banned in Wales, citing that the Welsh Government’s own animal welfare plan’s foundation is ‘prevention is better than cure’.

Valley Greyhounds, based in Ystrad Mynach, is the only remaining track in Wales. Currently running independently, the track is aiming to get a licence from the Greyhound Board of Great Britain which would allow them to hold more professional races.

Vanessa Wadden, of Hope Rescue, said: “The bottom line for us is, do we want Wales to be a nation that says yes to more dogs suffering catastrophic injuries and being killed? Do we want Wales to put additional pressure on under-resourced and over-stretched animal welfare charities?

“Or do we want Wales to be a nation that leads the way in greyhound protection and firmly says ‘no’ to greyhound suffering and cruelty. The foundation of any animal welfare strategy, including Welsh Government in their animal welfare plan, is prevention is better than cure.”

Ms Wadden says that if the Welsh Government choose to regulate the racing, it would lead the way for more dogs to suffer.

According to 2019 documentary RTE Investigates: Greyhounds Running for their Lives, 6,500 greyhounds were exported to the UK each year and 6,000 were killed, with surplus greyhounds being killed at slaughterhouses.

Ms Wadden said the charity – which is named after greyhound Last Hope who was found on a mountain in Caerphilly after being shot with a bolt action rifle following racing at Valley Greyhounds – has taken in 200 dogs who came from the track, 40 of which were injured either directly from the track or due to people connected to it.

But Malcolm Tams, former owner and current manager of Valley Greyhounds in Ystrad Mynach, said these figures were wrong.

A statement on Valley Greyhounds' website relating to injuries says: “Out of 4,652 runs by greyhounds in races during the period of The Valley’s association with Hope Rescue, only 24 greyhounds suffered a serious injury (typically, a bone fracture) during a race.”

He also said the track, which has been licenced and inspected by Caerphilly County Borough Council is in very good condition – after what he said were reports to the council from Hope Rescue about the state of the track.

“The trading standards animal welfare inspector visited a number of times and gave us very minor advisory changes but was happy everything was to standard," he said. "A vet also came with her, and the vet’s report was fine too.

“We’re licenced by the council and have races once a week. Owners bring their dogs here at around 12 months and they get trained and by 15 months, they are then taken off by the owners to the professional tracks in England and elsewhere and by four years old they’ve retired.

"When they retire, some owners keep them at home or give them to someone else. That’s not to do with us.

“Most people who go to greyhound racing, do so because they love dogs. I’ve had dogs for 40 years.”

The Valley had partnered with Hope Rescue who offered to take in retired dogs that owners wanted to adopt out and would take those injured in the races to the vets. Mr Tams said they stopped this on seeing how few were being adopted into new homes despite the donations, while Ms Wadden said they were shut out after sharing the petition online.

Currently greyhound racing is set to be debated in Scotland and England after petitions, and has been banned in 41 states in America.