More than 30 injured greyhounds were put down at Belle Vue (Manchester) race track last year, according to new figures.
Animal rights groups say they believe the figures only scratch the surface and that further deaths occur because of races at the Gorton stadium.
But a leading dog owner has defended the sport’s safety record, arguing races are carefully supervised to ensure dog welfare and that every effort was made to re-home injured animals.
The statistics were provided by Liverpool University which carries out research into making the sport safer. It receives dogs from the stadium and remains of animals from owners for further study.
Officials told the M.E.N. that in the last 12 months, their scientists had received 33 dogs from the stadium – 31 of these were put to sleep because of injury and the two others put down because of aggressive behaviour.
More than 300 dogs take part in around 54 races at the track each week.
The stadium – the oldest dog track in Britain – supports a charity which rehouses retired or injured dogs.
Ian Parry, from the Belle Vue owners and breeders association, said: “Nothing is infallible but breeders have dogs earmarked, owners have dogs microchipped, and a dedicated charity is in place to provide help in re-homing responsibly.
“Accidents occur in all sports, indeed injuries to dogs are not confined solely to those competing.
“Where they occur in the greyhound industry the owners make every effort to save the dog for a life outside racing. The number where that isn’t possible is a small percentage but has a devastating effect on all concerned and such instances are always investigated fully.
“Where the injury is thought to possibly be genetic or of an unusual nature, medical research can result, as in normal practice within other industries like horseracing – a responsible course of action, looking to further reduce accident rates.”
Mr Parry added he would welcome a public debate on the safety of the sport with anti-race campaigners.
But Tony Peters, from the Greyhound Action group, which has staged regular protests outside the dog track for the last two years, claimed some animals were put down even though they had minor injuries.
He said: “We know of one dog that was put down a couple of weeks ago. We are talking about dogs that have injuries which are minor and from which they can recover. But because they will no longer race again, they are being put down.
“There are many more that die as a result of racing. Dogs are bred for racing and killed because they do not make the grade.
“We believe there are 12,000 greyhounds killed every year, which means that the UK’s 25 tracks are responsible for an average 500 deaths each year.”
Previous information released to animal rights groups by the university, under the Freedom of Information Act, showed more than 60 animals were donated by Belle Vue owners during 2008.
Liverpool University said their research aimed to reduce the number of injuries suffered by the animals in the future by suggesting changes in training and racing schedules.
A spokeswoman said: “Owners often choose to donate their animal’s remains for veterinary research – such generosity is essential to improving animal health and welfare.”