“Rapido Favor” strikes the rail and unpadded wall on the first bend. Promotional material for the track had previously bragged about the bend being “eye-wateringly sharp.”

Industry commentators and animal welfare campaigners alike have raised serious concerns about the safety of Wales’ only greyhound track after it’s re-opening event saw a number of dogs get in to difficulty.

This event only featured pre-auction trials, with just 2 dogs running at a time. A number of greyhound industry insiders have stated the track is not suitable for the higher-grade, 6 dog races that are planned to start this Autumn. The track has just gone through a series of developments to prepare for the start of commercial greyhound racing.

Know the Danger

Despite claimed “improvements” the Valley Greyhound Stadium has once again proved a serious danger to greyhounds, with one dog “Know the Danger” apparently seriously injured and withdrawn from sale after a collision.

In total some 46 dogs were trialled, before being put up for sale. However, even when running only two dogs at a time there were a number of serious issues, with collisions, dogs running into walls and dogs losing their footing, leaving many asking why the GBGB (the body responsible for regulation) have approved the track for commercial racing. With its current design, long run up to the first sharp bend and the new outside track for the hare, it appears many more serious injuries and deaths will be inevitable when racing with 6 dogs at a time.

As a result, animal welfare organisations are renewing their call for the Welsh Government to bring in a phased ban on greyhound racing. They are also calling on GBGB to disclose exactly what injuries Know the Danger sustained and for this dog to be handed over to a suitable animal rescue for medical treatment and rehoming. 

Two men are spotted having to carry “Know the Danger” off the track after the dog is unable to leave the track unaided. The live stream cuts to a title card shortly after.

Concern From Both Sides

Animal welfare organisations are not the only voices calling for change. Social media and industry forums were awash with comments from concerned trainers, owners and pundits who were all worried about the prospect of commercial racing taking place at the track.

Many commentators pointed to the haste with which the conversion from an amateur ‘flapping’ track to a professional track had taken place. One industry expert who reached out to us anonymously highlighted a number of serious failings such as spectator areas being too close to the track, walls being unpadded and too close to the rail, insufficient space between the rail, hare and walls, and a poorly-graded running surface.

“Unrecognisable” loses footing on the first bend and becomes airborne, possibly colliding with the other dog

Grim Predictions Proved True

Perhaps most upsetting for animal welfare campaigners is the fact that warnings prior to the event were not heeded. Those with previous experience of rehabilitating and rehoming dogs raced at Valley warned of the dire consequences of bringing GBGB racing to the track, however these warnings were dismissed as exaggeration.

On approving the development at the track, Caerphilly County Borough Council claimed “The proposed development[…]will enhance visitor facilities and greyhound welfare…” This is despite also stating that greyhound welfare was not a material planning consideration when reviewing objections to the development.

Greyhound Rescue Wales will now be approaching the relevant bodies to understand what will be done next to prevent a reoccurrence of these events at the Valley Greyhound Stadium, but ultimately it is clear only a Welsh Government ban will prevent many more dogs being seriously injured or losing their lives at the track.

“Sheadogue Babs” becomes stuck in the trap and sustains an injury. The dog had already turned in the trap before a staff member conducted their checks. The staff member then failed to spot the turned dog and gave the signal to start anyway.