The man who killed 10,000 greyhound dogs
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The man who killed 10,000 greyhound dogs

Daniel Foggo
The Sunday Times – London, U.K.
16 Jul 2006

THE secret slaughter of at least 10,000 racing greyhounds by one man has been exposed by an undercover investigation.

For the past 15 years David Smith, a builders’ merchant, has been killing healthy greyhounds no longer considered by their trainers to be fast enough to race. He buries them in a one-acre plot at the back of his home in Seaham, Co Durham.

Last week The Sunday Times covertly filmed Smith on two consecutive days receiving greyhounds from trainers before killing them with a bolt gun, dumping them in the plot and covering over the “graves” using a mechanical digger.

He told an undercover reporter it took him three years to fill the field, at which point he simply started all over again. “Within a year the bodies have gone,” said Smith. “It takes me about three years to get across there and by the time I get there I can start back here again and there are only a few bones left.”

According to Sunday Times calculations and testimony of two racing insiders, it is conservatively estimated Smith has killed at least 10,000 dogs.

The scandal, described as the “canine killing fields” by one campaigner, has shocked the government and greyhound industry, which attracts bets of £2.5 billion a year.

Ben Bradshaw, minister for animal welfare, said Smith’s business was “horrendous” and promised an inquiry into the slaughter and potential health and environmental hazard of such a large-scale dumping of dogs’ bodies. Alistair McLean, chief executive of the National Greyhound Racing Club, which governs the sport, described it as a “euthanasia factory” and promised an inquiry. “This is disgraceful. We categorically don’t endorse this kind of thing,” he said.

The RSPCA has previously expressed “grave concerns” about the fate of up to 12,000 retired greyhounds that go missing every year. A spokesman said: “There is no justification for killing these animals simply because they can’t do their job any more.”

Smith charges owners and trainers £10 to kill unwanted dogs, many only a few years old. One trainer, who asked not to be named, said: “This man kills dogs for 40 licensed trainers and there are at least 10,000 dogs in his field. People in the industry have been going to him for years. Many of the bigwigs knew it was going on.”

Since 1997 anyone has been able to own a bolt gun to kill animals without a licence, although they can be prosecuted if the animals are put down inhumanely or without the owner’s permission. A new code of practice proposed under the animal welfare bill would restrict the killing of greyhounds to vets using “humane” lethal injections.

After being confronted this weekend Smith said he would stop killing dogs, which he said he had done in the past for “humane” reasons.

Article at:,,176-2272175,00.html 

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