A DORCHESTER-based dog welfare charity is calling for an end to greyhound racing.

Wendy Hassell, chairman of Sighthound Welfare Trust, said she was stunned to read a newspaper story claiming that the Royal Veterinary College paid a greyhound clinic for dog body parts.

Mrs Hassell, who set up the charity two years ago to help raise funds and awareness for rehoming greyhounds and similar breeds, is calling for tighter welfare measures in the greyhound racing industry.

She said: "More needs to be done and self-regulation doesn't work. Ultimately, greyhound racing should be phased out.

"We know that at least 10,000 adult dogs are disposed of every year when they can't race any more but that's only the ones we know about. There are probably many more.

"And no one knows how many puppies are killed. Many never race at all and are just got rid of.

"It's heartbreaking what happens to these dogs. We haven't got the facilities to rehome greyhounds so we work to help the charities that do. The dogs that find homes are the very lucky ones."

The Sunday Times report claimed that staff at the Greyhound Clinic in Essex had an arrangement to destroy healthy dogs for £30 each and supply body parts to the veterinary college.

Charity In a response to the newspaper the clinic's head vet said he had been paid £10 per dog and that he intended to pay the money to charity.

The RVC stated that it insisted that the owner and vet agreed to euthanasia and owners signed a form to acknowledge their pets' fate.

Mrs Hassell said the arrangement left her stunned and appalled.

She said: "The very institutions that should uphold best practice in the welfare of animals are failing greyhounds, possibly one of the most vulnerable dog breeds. Moreover, this latest revelation of the systematic destruction and exploitation of greyhounds raises further concerns over the ability of the greyhound racing industry to effectively self-regulate.

"Sighthound Welfare Trust is committed to pursuing the eventual dismantling of this vile industry."

She said the story followed a revelation about 18 months ago in which a man was paid £10 a time to kill and bury thousands of greyhounds on his land.

Mrs Hassell, who has three lurchers as family pets, said she set up the charity after discovering what happens to greyhounds that cannot race. Its forum has members from all over the country and overseas.

She said: "Greyhounds and other Sighthound dogs like lurchers make wonderful companions. They are very loving dogs and don't need much exercise.

"It's terrible that the greyhound industry makes money from them and gets rid of them. Nobody really knows what's happening because there is this curtain of secrecy."