THE former owner of a Holyrood Dog of the Year award winner has been given a lifetime ban from keeping animals.

Just one day after Joy – a greyhound who lost one of her legs after being seriously injured during a race – won the public vote at the annual awards on June 26 her former trainer, Rebecca Perkins, was sentenced to 36 weeks in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of animal cruelty and one count of animal suffering.

She was also handed a lifetime ban from keeping animals by Scarborough Magistrate’s Court.

Perkins was registered with the regulator for licenced greyhound racing, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB), at the time the crimes were committed.

However, in September 2022 a GBGB steward paid a visit to Perkins’ property after being tipped off about a potential case of animal cruelty.

It was discovered that the animals on her property were not provided with veterinary care “for the causes of their poor body condition, lameness and sores” and they were immediately taken into appropriate facilities.

The National: Joy lost her leg after being injured during a greyhound raceJoy lost her leg after being injured during a greyhound race (Image: Scotland Against Greyhound Exploitation)

Mark Bird, the chief executive of the GBGB, said Perkins’ case was an “isolated incident”.

“It was our own investigation that first uncovered this and we immediately took all the necessary steps to ensure appropriate action was taken to safeguard the wellbeing of the greyhounds," he said. 

“There is absolutely no place for any mistreatment of greyhounds within our sport and, as the regulator of licensed greyhound racing, we will always place the health and welfare of the animals above all other considerations.

“Whilst this case is very distressing, it is an isolated case and through our robust regulatory practices and policies, we ensure that all registered greyhounds are given the care and protection they deserve at all times.”

It comes as a petition calling on greyhound racing to be banned in Scotland makes its way through the Scottish Parliament.

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At present, Scotland has only one greyhound racing track: Thornton Greyhound Racing Stadium near Kirkcaldy.

However, it is not licenced by the GBGB – sparking fears that similar animal welfare breaches could be going unnoticed.

Gill Docherty is the chairperson of Scotland Against Greyhound Exploitation (SAGE), a group calling for the sport to be banned.

She said that Joy’s case highlighted the need for action.

“We were understandably horrified to hear of the case of Rebecca Perkins and the neglect and suffering she inflicted on the dogs she should have cared for.

“However, this is indicative of so many other cases we have heard which didn’t make it to court.

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“The industry regulator GBGB claims to have high welfare standards with strategies in place to protect the dogs they use as gambling commodities.

“And yet cases like these are all too common, proving what we have always asserted: that regulation simply does not work.

“Only last week the GBGB released their injury and death statistics for 2022, which showed that the rate of injuries is actually higher than 2018 – no progress at all.

“That’s why we, along with many other groups such as the SSPCA, the RSPCA, the Dogs Trust, Onekind and many others are urging the government to take decisive action and enforce a ban.”

Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell, who accompanied Joy during the Holyrood Dog of the Year event, told reporters on Monday that he felt “greyhound racing has had its day in Scotland”.