Greyhounds walk with their handlers before competing at the Caliente racetrack in Tijuana. REUTERS/Erin Siegal

Johannesburg- Dog racing has been put back on South Africa's gambling agenda just three years after government decided to abandon the idea, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said on Monday.

In May, the trade and industry department tabled a new draft National Gambling Norms and Standards bill in the Government Gazette, said IFAW Southern Africa companion animal adviser, Cora Bailey.

The bill included dog racing as part of a proposed suite of gambling activities.

“What can have possibly changed since 2011 when the department... backed down from the idea of greyhound racing?” asked Bailey.

“Then, and despite a massive lobby by the pro-racing fraternity, they responded positively to overwhelming evidence of the cruelty and welfare concerns related to dog fighting.

“This was not to mention the financial implications for gamblers.”

She said that since that time nothing had changed regarding the welfare of dogs in disadvantaged communities or for the people they lived with.

“It's not just the dogs that suffer, but the financial situation for people in these communities is dire and will only become worse if greyhound racing is approved.”

This was because it would lead to illegal racing and illicit gambling.

The IFAW believed legalising greyhound racing would only worsen an already out-of-control animal welfare crisis in South Africa.

It had submitted its concerns to government.

IFAW Southern Africa director Jason Bell said: “The fact is that South African authorities don't have the laws, or the manpower to manage illegal activities such as dog fighting and puppy mills.”

Such tasks were left to animal welfare NGOs to sort out, who were already overwhelmed, and under these circumstances it was inexplicable how government would even consider legalising greyhound racing.

The re-introduction of greyhound racing under the poor socio-economic conditions that affected much of South Africa would lead the dogs to be seen as expendable commodities.