A proposed law which could shut Scotland’s last greyhound racing track in Fife will be brought to Holyrood early this year.
The planned legislation aims to outlaw the sport, which in practice would mean the end for Thornton track near Glenrothes, the only one still operating.
Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Mark Ruskell is behind the campaign in parliament to end the sport, despite warnings from enthusiasts that welfare would be worse if racing suddenly stopped.
“This cruel practice has no place in modern Scotland, greyhound racing is beyond reform and it’s time to bring it finally to an end,” he said.
The MSP, whose party is in power with the SNP, said the risks of racing dogs at 40 mph on a curved track are too great.
Mr Ruskell met government officials to discuss how to get his proposals through parliament.
A consultation will be the first stage.
Thornton fans defend sport
Fans at Thornton previously defended the sport and rubbished campaigners’ claims the animals are poorly treated and even drugged to make them run faster.
The Courier visited the track in 2022 to see how races are operated.
Track owner Sandy Bingham defended her business at the time, saying it is entertainment, not exploitation.
A race was due to be held last Saturday but it was cancelled the day before.
The operators said the stadium is closed until trials on January 31 and the next possible race is February 3.
Unhappy commenters on Thornton’s Facebook site complained about the late cancellation.
The site advertises racing every Saturday evening.
Asked to respond to the Greens’ plan, director Paul Brignal said the party is “wrecking” the country.
“They received a handful of votes and are responsible for every debacle that the Scottish Government have been involved in,” he told The Courier.
The Greyhound Board of Great Britain says there were 22,284 dog injuries recorded in the UK between 2018 and 2022.
Its figures show 2,718 died during the same period, although the annual number of deaths has dropped around two thirds in that time.
Of those, 367 suffered a sudden death, while 868 were put down on humane grounds at a racecourse.
Chief executive of the board Mark Bird highlighted a recent consultation document published by the Scottish Government which suggests an outright ban on racing “is not, at this time, necessary”, but admitted that the practice was in essence “unregulated” in Scotland.
The Thornton track does not currently operate under rules laid out by GBGB.
Mr Bird said a ban on greyhound racing “would only risk animal welfare”.
He added: “Welfare is absolutely paramount in licensed greyhound racing and everyone involved puts the health and wellbeing of greyhounds at the heart of everything they do.
“Our annual data provides firm, unequivocal proof that our already strong welfare standards are improving and that the initiatives we are putting in place are the right ones.”
First Minister Humza Yousaf said last year he was “more than happy” to consider Mr Ruskell’s concerns.
History of Thornton Stadium
Thornton Stadium has been operational since 1936 and has been owned by Paul Brignal and Sandy Bingham for the past 20 years.
When The Courier visited in 2022, Ms Bingham told us: “I don’t think this is exploitation, it just entertainment.
“We would be the only business affected by the ban, but there are a lot of trainers around here who will still go and race down south if it is banned.”