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Gone to the dogs: London's last greyhound track is closing this weekend

Gone to the dogs: London's last greyhound track is closing this weekend
Chloe Johnson/Alamy

Nearly 100 years of history comes to an end this week as the last greyhound track in London closes. Saturday sees the final ever dog race at Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium before it’s torn down to enable AFC Wimbledon to build a stadium on the same spot. It’s a sad end to an unbelievably colourful sporting history that once saw up to 90,000 people attending big races, the occasional riot and a bizarre period during the 1930s when an entrepreneur imported 12 cheetahs to race on the track.

In future, Londoners wanting to see dog racing will have to travel to Romford or Crayford, but you can head to Wimbledon this weekend for a last chance to partake in a slice of London history. We’d highly recommend it. Plus, it’s like nothing else you’ll find in London. And after Saturday, you can take that literally. 

Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium. Earlsfield rail. Sat Mar 25, 6.30pm. £7 entry.

Feeling nostalgic? These archive photos show what London’s public transport used to look like.




Karl T

It is not actually London's last greyhound stadium, as Crayford and Romford are also now part of (London) as well!

Amanda L

I along with many other true Greyhound lovers will be celebrating at the closure of the last track in London this weekend! 

This "sport" is responsible for the death of tens of thousands of dogs every year, both through horrific injuries sustained during racing around too tight bends at high speeds & also through their destruction when they are no longer deemed profitable to keep due to injury or just getting slower! A greyhound's racing career starts at around 18 months of age & is finished typically by the age of 3 years. A greyhound's natural lifespan is around 14 years. There will never be enough homes for all the thousands of surplus dogs & so the majority are killed. if they are lucky by a humane method, often not, as this costs the owner, to spend money on their unprofitable dog!

Common methods of killing a dog including shooting them through the head, drowning or dumping the poor, terrified animal on a motorway to be hit by a car, among other barbaric methods. Often dogs will have their ears cut off first, so that they cannot be traced back to their owner by the identification tattoos in their ears! Some dogs are shipped abroad to be forced to run & live in horrific conditions, in places such as the infamous Macua, death track in China or to be used for racing or pig hunting in Pakistan, often with already sustained injuries.

That is if the dog makes it into racing. Thousands of puppies are over-bred every year & obviously not all of these will make it into racing. These surplus babies are culled before they even make it to adult-hood! Only one in four puppies will make it to four years old! Those that do have a short career in racing are often kept in appalling conditions, and the so-called self-regulation of the industry does little to prevent this.

All greyhounds, even the lucky ones, that do find a retirement home, suffer. They often have injuries & arthritis which cause them pain due to the stress put on their limbs from racing around poorly designed & maintained tracks. Many die a premature death caused by osteosarcoma believed to be caused by injuries sustained whilst racing.

1. In the UK, the industry's governing body, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB), is self-regulated and thereby self-serving. It refuses to reveal the numbers of dogs being destroyed, injury statistics, retirement figures, and other welfare data which The Dogs Trust has been requesting for

approx the past three years. Why is the industry so secretive? What does it have to hide?

2. Welfare legislation and regulations for racing greyhounds are weak and only apply to the tracks. The dogs spend only 5 to 10% of their time at the track. The welfare legislation does not cover anything away from the track. So, the welfare of the dogs whilst being transported, or whilst at their training or breeding kennels, is not protected. Given that racing greyhounds spend at least 90 percent of their time away from the track, that is a huge proportion of their lives 'behind closed doors'. And as we know from the recent undercover investigation by Dogs Trust, the safety and welfare of dogs kept in training kennels has been found to be seriously lacking. In some cases, the dogs are being kept in appalling conditions and not receiving necessary veterinary care (see Dogs Trust report entitled 'The Greyhound Industry: don’t bet on fair treatment'). Mind you, we already knew about the horrendous treatment of greyhounds before this report. There is plenty of evidence out there if you care enough to find it.

3. There is indisputable evidence of drugging dogs to enhance or curtail 'performance' in order to fix races (see BBC Panorama's documentary 'Drugs and Money: Dog Racing Undercover' which aired last November, 2014). Or the list of disceplenaries  on GBGB own website. 

4. The industry claim that greyhounds love to race. If this was the case, why does it cull puppies who are deemed unsuitable for racing and viewed as acceptable 'wastage'?

5. Of those greyhounds who do make it to the tracks, many are unaccounted for once they 'retire' (in other words, once they become too slow or sustain a career-ending injury, and thus are of no further use to their owners/trainers). Chair of the Greyhound Forum admits that re-homing only represents a small fraction of the number of dogs who are 'retired' at the age of four and that "it should not be down to rescue organisations to mop up the fallout of a multi-million pound industry nor to have to piece together the puzzle of where a suspected 1800 ex racing greyhounds disappear to every year". Source: Dogs Trust response to Panorama aired 3rd Nov 2014

6. We do know what happens to some of those 'unaccounted for' greyhounds... greyhounds whom the industry claims to love. Some are dumped and left for dead, sometimes with their ears cut off to remove ID tattoos. Others are subjected to further exploitation for example being used for hunting  and/or end up as strays and are then taken in by independent rescue groups, often in poor and sometimes truly appalling physical and emotional condition.

One rescue keeps a 'wall of shame' which records details of all ex-racing greyhounds who have entered its care. It does not make light reading but sheds much light on how little the industry actually cares about the welfare of greyhounds.

For further information please take a look at the following websites.

Heather D

Good riddance. I've seen the state of some of these dogs once they're finished with, and the standard of living conditions while they are still 'in use' is bloody awful. And then those lovely trainers think it's a good idea to export their dogs to China, Pakistan etc. Hate it.

Marco B

"Nearly 100 years of racing" and thousands and thousands of premature deaths and mistreatment of these beautiful dogs. So happy that this "sport" is phasing out. Having fostered and adopted these dogs, you get to see how awful they can be treated during their "careers." Alexi Duggins, you need to do a bit more research into what a good night out at the dogs constitutes for the dogs and all the people that have to care for them once their "trainers" throw them out. 

Nicky W

Unfortunately the cost of a good night out are injuries and death of the dogs. The industry is dying out because it is rife with cruelty and the deaths of thousands of dogs every year that the industry terms as wastage. Not to mention that the trainers are taking the punters for mugs by using drugs and other tricks to either enhance or knobble a dog's performance to affect the odds. And before anyone dismisses me as a anti nut job, I have worked in the rescue side of things and I have seen the dogs that are 'loved' by their trainers coming in with untreated injuries including broken hocks, toes and tails, undernourished, flea ridden and even with their ears sliced off so the owners can't be traced through their tattoos. It is a vile industry and needs to go completely.


@Nicky W

Very well said Nicky thank you. I am currently working in a dedicated greyhound rescue charity. I am becoming more and more disillusioned by the actions of my manager who refuses to be honest with our supporters (some of whom have donated thousands of pounds) about the atrocities within the racing industry. I am not asking to name and shame trainers but by us saying nothing and portraying the industry as sweet and rosie this cannot be right also.  I do not feel it is our place to cover up cruelty and protect animal abusers. I am very angry, sad and very disheartened. The sooner my job is no longer needed and the sooner this vile industry is dead and buried the better.  

Matthew R

Roll Up, Roll Up! Your last chance to see many of these greyhounds alive. That's right a racing dogs life is only 1.5 years on average rather then the expected 9 and with 3 pounds entry and a free drink, how can you go wrong?

Brenda G

Ryan C, you really have no idea at all. Please do your research before you post. Thousands of greyhound puppies are killed if they are not suitable for racing, thousands of adult greyhounds are disposed of when no longer fast enough, and believe me not always humanely. Many are put to sleep at the track after suffering treatable injuries. Many are drugged, fed rubbish, kept in appalling conditions, muzzled 24/7, not exercised (except to race) Greyhounds are raced when it is pouring with rain, icy, foggy, snow, how dangerous is this. Many greyhounds are scared of loud bangs, yet they are raced on firework night. I have owned many rescue greyhounds and they are scared, often in appalling condition. These beautiful, gentle dogs deserve so much better. They love to run, but for fun, not forced out of a trap and run around dangerous tracks in very close proximity to other dogs. I hate this industry and the sooner all tracks are closed the better.

Ryan C

Prepare for a slight onslaught of posts from anti racers. Each one using a different number to try and describe how cruel the industry is. They have agendas so are obviously going to try and poison yours and others minds. 

You'll find that the majority of the dogs are looked after perfectly and treated like pets. Yes there are cases where they have been mistreated but this is in the minority (I praise the antis for publicising any scum who mistreats their dogs) and most owners and trainers love their dogs.

It is a disgrace that the GRA and GBGB have allowed Wimbledon to close.

Sylvia I

@Ryan C I am sorry, but until you are involved in the rescue of the wonderful dogs from the horrific kennels a lot of trainers leave them in, you are in no position to comment. Very few racers are looked after as pets, and very few are re homed after their racing days are over. Most just disappear. Please, check your facts before posting.


@Ryan C Each number given regarding the missing/dead greyhounds is an 'educated estimate' based on the information we have, because the greyhound racing industry refuses to publicise its injury and death statistics, as you must already know.

If you don't want us to make educated estimates then please do go off and lobby the GBGB to insist that they publish their figures.

If the majority of the dogs were, as you say, looked after perfectly and 'treated like pets', as you claim, then why doesn't the industry prove this?  It can't prove it.... because it's not true.

Ann L

@Ryan C 

You are so wrong, good trainers are in the minority.  You should visit greyhound rescue centres and see first hand the condition these dogs arrive in - starved and terrified, with injuries.  Yes, the figures are debatable, but the cruelty isn't.  We have no agenda other than stopping cruelty to animals.  


We are disturbed to see that you are promoting greyhound racing. Don't you realise how cruel this industry is? Thousands of greyhounds are exploited, neglected, slaughtered every year in the name of greed and profit. There are many campaigns across the UK and worldwide to educate the public about this horrendous industry, including 'Caged Nationwide' and 'Greyt Exploitations'.

There was a Parliamentary inquiry last year (report published Feb 2016) which raised serious concerns about the inability or unwillingness of the industry to ensure the welfare of the dogs, and it found that at least 1300 dogs were killed at UK tracks between 2012 and 2014. In all likelihood, at least this number will also have been killed away from the tracks. 

Of those not killed, many are kept in dreadful conditions, as an undercover investigation by the Dogs Trust revealed. Please stop promoting this awful, corrupt, secretive industry which covers up the truth and conceals its injury and 'euthanisia' statistics. #YouBetTheyDie

Angie B

I cannot believe that anyone out there is still trying to promote this cruel and disgusting so called sport.

Please read the facts on the CAGED UK website. One day all stadiums will be closed and all greyhounds will live normal doggy lives throughout the world.

Viviane P

Do you really find it "sad to see an end to an unbelievably colourful sporting history???"  Isn't it much sadder to know the fact that 1 Million + healthy greyhounds lost their lives by euthanias, killling, dumping since greyhound racing started in 1925 in this vile and greedy industry ???  I just HOPE you will NOT promote greyhound racing in Romford or Crayford next - it is an unbelievably cruel "sport" and the sooner it stops the better!

Greyt E

Greyhound racing is a self-regulated gambling business that will always depend on cruel practices to remain profitable.

The industry is responsible for the over breeding and disappearance of thousands of dogs and approximately 10,000 greyhound bred for British racing - 80% in Ireland - go unaccounted for each year.

Healthy puppies that are too slow to make the grade or disinterested in chasing the lure are simply culled.

Dogs that sustain even minor injuries on the dangerously configured tracks are destroyed on economic grounds - a practice condoned by the GBGB and well within the Rules of Racing. Thousands of healthy slow or older greyhounds are destroyed deemed unsuitable as a betting product if no retirement home can be found - again a practice condoned by the GBGB.

During their 'working' life - racing greyhounds licenced by the GBGB receive no protection under the Animal Welfare Act because the Government expect people like you and me to take out a private prosecution against the self-regulated billion pound gambling industry.

The only sure bet is that as long as greyhound racing exists - the bookmakers and the Government will make millions of pounds on the deaths of these gentle dogs.
Alexandra H

This cruel sport has no place in today's civilised, enlightened society.  Any sport treating animals as disposable commodities for financial gain has no place in our modern world.

Ann L

I think you meant to say, 100 years of cruelty comes to an end.  Money making at the expense of lovely animals.  Time greyhound racing is seen for what it is, inhumane. 

Sandra N

Good riddance and hope all the others follow soon

Graham P

It's a shame it's the closure of the track that's deemed as "sad" and not the fate of the poor dogs who have been forced to race and killed over the years. It's cruel and exploitative in every respect. Thankfully it's a declining industry and slowly but surely will vanish all together.

Ros H

The sooner all tracks are closed the better. The dogs are treated like commodities, not animals. 23 hours a day in a kennel, injuries not treated properly but over-treated with painkillers which destroy the dog's digestive system, drugs used to improve or compromise performance (depending on whether the trainer's betting on, or against, that dog), dogs dumped or killed by their owners or trainers when they're not good enough. Thousands of dogs unaccounted for every year (that doesn't include the ones destroyed by a vet). It's a vile industry.

You bet, they die!

Lesley W

I endorse all that Laura S has posted.

Alexi Duggins is the type who lamented over the outlawing of Bear baiting in 1835.

Greyhound racing is corrupt, cruel and exploitative and should be consigned to history.

Neville O

An end to professional animal cruelty in Wimbledon

Adam R

Just to clarify you get a drinks voucher which is worth £4 with the cheapest pint being £4.80 - so not a free drink. The bar is awful at the start of the evening as they have to process vouchers and then process the rest of the transaction for each punter and you only have two bars to go to. If you're going its less hassle to pay £20/25 each to access the dining area but suddenly its not such a cheap proposition as you'd imagine. I went the other day and it was more stressful than enjoyable.

Shame Time Out hasnt checked out the conditions as it is misleading to say its a free drink when you need to pay extra for a pint of carling.

Angie B

Shame Timeout hasn't checked the facts about how these animals have to live abd die purely for entertainment.

Sylvia I

@Adam R If a free drink is all you are bothered about, I would go elsewhere where you will not be promoting a cruel 'sport'!

Russell S

Good riddance. The sooner the rest close the better

Matt D

"The last greyhound track in London closes" this weekend, after which "Londoners wanting to see dog racing will have to travel to Romford [in the London Borough of Havering] or Crayford [in the London Borough of Bexley]."  So not the last greyhound track in London then.

Angie B

The fact that any stadiums still exists is unbelievable and upsetting for any dog lover.

Doug H

About time too!!!

"8,000 racing dogs are “retired” due to injury each year before they reach the age of four. 

A minimum of 4,700 dogs “disappear without trace” from the system annually.

Each of Britain’s major greyhound stadiums are responsible, on average, for the slaughter of over 500 dogs each year.

Thousands of former racing greyhounds were found buried in makeshift graves at Seaham in 2006 and in May 2008 the Sunday Times exposed Britain’s largest greyhound breeder selling puppies, which would not chase or had proved too slow, to Liverpool University for research and dissection. "