THE Scottish Greens are demanding an end to “barbaric” and “outdated” greyhound racing.

MSP Mark Ruskell said races can leave dogs “facing cruel and unnecessary risk and even death”.

If Scotland is “a nation of dog lovers”, politicians must not “stand by idly and allow this cruelty to continue any longer”, he said.

Ruskell spoke before the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission publishes a report on greyhound racing, which will go to MSPs on Holyrood’s Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee by the end of February.

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The Green MSP said while he does not want to prejudge the study, it is “clear” “the time has come, at long, long last to end this cruel and exploitative activity once and for all”.

He added: “Greyhound racing is and always has been a barbaric, gambling-led sport that leaves dogs facing cruel and unnecessary risk and even death.

“My concerns are heightened even more when such events are allowed to take place at such unlicensed venues where no vets are present and where there is no guarantee of any welfare standards being observed.

“If we truly are a nation of dog lovers, then by stepping up our campaign as we intend to do, then the only thing I would bet on is ending this outdated industry this year.

“We will not stand by idly and allow this cruelty to continue any longer.”

Scotland has one regulated race track – the Shawfield Stadium in Rutherglen near Glasgow. There is an unregulated track at Thornton in Kirkcaldy, Fife.

The Scottish SPCA has already called for the sport to be banned, with Mark Flynn, the organisation’s chief superintendent, saying in April that Scotland should “lead the way”.

Ruskell, an MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, added: “Animal welfare groups, politicians and decent-minded people all agree that the industry is not only on its last legs, it has run its last race.

“I am anxious that we can take the next steps in Parliament to finally bring this to an end.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We share the concerns raised earlier this year by the Rural Affairs, Islands, and Natural Environment Committee on greyhound welfare and will carefully consider all advice and recommendations made on the matter.

“We recognise greyhound racing is a particularly emotive issue.

“The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission is currently compiling a report on the issue of greyhound racing and will share its views with the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee by the end of February 2023.

“We look forward to then hearing from the Committee on what it believes should be the next steps.

“The Scottish Government takes animal welfare very seriously and is committed to ensuring the highest standards in Scotland.

“The provisions of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 allow action to be taken if there is evidence to show that the welfare of greyhounds, whether still racing or retired, is not being met.”

A spokesman for the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, the regulator for licensed greyhound racing, said: “The Scottish electorate will be astonished that the Green Party sees this as a political priority for 2023.

“Greyhound welfare is at the heart of licensed racing and everyone involved in the sport is committed to giving greyhounds the very best care and attention at all times. We constantly strive to enhance our welfare standards, which is why this year we have launched a new long-term welfare strategy that has received considerable political and veterinary acclaim.

“As regulator, we have zero tolerance of any mistreatment of greyhounds and work closely with the relevant authorities to uphold this. As the minister made clear in the recent Holyrood debate on the subject, there are sufficient powers in current legislation to prosecute cruelty in any activity involving animals. Furthermore, we are providing evidence to the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission outlining our ongoing commitment to protecting the welfare of greyhounds throughout their racing careers and in their retirement.

“Any ban on greyhound racing would lead to significant economic consequences for all those individuals who depend on the sport, not to mention a considerable welfare crisis for those greyhounds who would require new homes. Hard-working families across Scotland who share our love of animals will wonder why the Scottish Greens believe the parliamentary time and economic cost of a ban are a priority for next year."