The SAGE Petition
PE 1758: end greyhound racing in Scotland
signed by over 13,000 people!
Within a 6 week period! This made it the 5th most signed petition put before the Scottish Government at the time of submission.
We lodged the petition with parliament on 23rd October 2019 and have managed to keep it live in parliament despite the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in Government.
Our petition was first heard at the Petitions Committee on 21st November 2019. It faced opposition, but with the help of Mark Ruskell from the Scottish Greens it was fast tracked to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee. The petition was to be considered in the context of the upcoming Animal Welfare Bill.
The SAGE team was invited to give evidence at the ECCLR committee, but this was cancelled due to the COVID outbreak.
The ECCLR committee reconvened in February 2021, giving us little notice that the petition would be heard. We implored the committee to let us give evidence, but they refused.
We understood that the pandemic meant petitions such as ours were not a top priority, but we did not want to lose the momentum of years of hard work. We were so close and saw it slipping away.
Greyhound racing in Scotland suffered greatly through the pandemic and was struggling to recover. We saw it as a perfect opportunity to legislate against the industry, at a time there would be very little impact in socioeconomic terms. But the parliamentary session was drawing to an end. There was little desire for unfinished business to be carried over. This put pressure on MSPs to close outstanding petitions.
Many SAGE supporters lobbied politicians and we know this had an impact. Then once again Mark Ruskell from the Scottish Greens attended the committee to speak on behalf of the hounds. The team watched the live feed with bated breath. Thankfully the petition was kept open for the next parliamentary session to consider. Many other petitions were closed that day.
The Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee (RAINE) met on Wednesday 20th April 2022 where they took evidence from two SAGE trustees. Mark Ruskell also spoke, again supporting our plight.
Just days before the committee met, for the first time the SSPCA publicly announced their support for a ban and that they'd submitted a statement in support of our petition. This was HUGE!
As supporters with 2, 3 and 4 legs gathered outside the Parliament, the committee made an unanimous decision to progress the petition.
The Committee subsequently wrote to the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission, who responded saying they DO NOT SUPPORT UNLICENSED (FLAPPING) TRACKS. However they intended “to respond to this issue following completion of Dogs Trust’s report on greyhound racing”.
On 27 September, Dogs Trust, the RSPCA and Blue Cross notified the Committee of the completion of their internal policy review and change of policy on the welfare of racing greyhounds. Their letter states that, following their review, they “are calling for greyhound racing to come to a phased end” on the basis that “the phasing out of greyhound racing is the only way to safeguard greyhound welfare”.
On 4th October 2022 the Committee wrote to SAWC again asking how it intends to respond to the issue of racing greyhound welfare in light of the completion of the review by Dogs Trust, RSPCA and Blue Cross and their call for a phased end to greyhound racing. SAWC has been given a one week extension for their response. It will now be published on 9th November 2022.
Read the petition and related correspondence here.