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Dog rescue may face legal
action for killing Greyhounds

A LEADING British dog rescue charity faces legal action from an Irish Greyhound rescue group after putting down four healthy Greyhounds they had offered to rehome on behalf of the Irish group, just three weeks after the dogs were passed into their care.

Animal welfare workers in Ireland sent four Greyhounds and a Lurcher to the Perthshire Abandoned Dogs Society (PADS) kennels, near Forteviot, after being told that the Scottish charity had a “no kill” policy and could easily rehome the dogs.

PADS officials claim the four dogs were “too volatile” and presented a danger to children and smaller animals, so they were put down.

However, Bernie Wright, Welfare Officer of Dog Rescue Ireland Dog Rescue Ireland insists that her group still owned them and would never have agreed to them being killed, even if it meant taking them back.

“Dog Rescue Ireland is a registered Charity that rescues abandoned dogs,” said Mrs Wright. “We are voluntary and uphold a ‘no kill’ policy with the exception of terminally ill animals. I keep the dogs here at my home and have actively helped animals since my early twenties.

Over the last few years mainly I have helped Ireland’s throwaway dogs, the ex-racing Greyhounds, as well as Lurchers.

“Racing greyhounds are treated as disposable items by many people involved in the dog racing industry, and they are terribly abused if they fail to make the grades. They are left in pounds, taken from canals and rivers and generally fail to reach even three years of age, most being killed if they are too slow on the tracks.”

Mrs Wright said that she was delighted to discover that many people in the UK and America treat Greyhounds like any other much loved dog, so she has exported many ex-racing Irish dogs to various animal rescues in these countries, as they stand a much better chance of being adopted there than in Ireland. Since September 2001 over 60 dogs have been successfully rehomed in this way.

Mrs Wright sent five dogs to PADS - Peppa, Nero, Pharaoh, McGee and Ben. Four of these had been at her home for up to twelve weeks before being sent. Peppa had been treated for mange. All four dogs however, were healthy when sent to Scotland by transporter and Mrs Wright had no concerns for their future well being.

“When a few dogs gather here I have to normally ring my contacts in England or Wales to see if they have spaces in their rescues,” said Mrs Wright. “ It’s a long slog, but usually there is no other way. I was delighted when I heard that PADS had offered five kennels to us when another Greyhound rescue charity was unable to take up their offer of kennelling space. I paid £300 from my own pocket for them to be sent to Scotland, but I’d gladly do that - and frequently have before - to make sure they get good homes.”

Intermediary

A Perth dog lover, Vicky Findlay, who acted as intermediary between the Irish charity and PADS, said that people had even donated blankets and toys for the dogs. “None of the dogs showed any aggression and I was assured by kennel staff that they were all settling in fine,” said Miss Findlay. “It was understood PADS would feature them in their magazine. Then I was suddenly asked not to talk about them.”

However, after three weeks, Miss Findlay realised that kennel staff were being evasive about the dogs’ whereabouts whenever she enquired after them. Eventually, Kennel Manageress Ann Stewart admitted that all four had been put to sleep, although she gave no reason for this.

As soon as she learned of the dog’s deaths, Miss Findlay was visited by PADS Vice Chairman, Helen Chalmers, who confirmed that four of the dogs had been destroyed. She immediately contacted Bernie Wright who has since sought a proper explanation as to why the dogs were destroyed.

“PADS have not made any kind of official communication with me and they’re hoping that all this will just go away.

“If they were in any way uncertain about the dogs, they should have contacted me and would have taken them back immediately. But they didn’t even think to do this and now four perfectly healthy, loving dogs have been killed needlessly,” said Mrs Wright.

PADS Hon Secertary and Legal Advisor, former solicitor, Margaret Storm, 56, said: “Our adherence to our principles never to have a dog put to sleep unless it has shown itself to be dangerous, vicious or sick beyond veterinary help have never changed, and such decisions have always been taken only after full consultation with our highly respected veterinary surgeons. This precept was also followed in this case, in the wake of several incidents which could so easily have had very serious consequences for local livestock, or any small child which had been running by, or shouting in the area.

“We were asked to help out by taking these dogs which had been recently rescued from Irish tracks and were quite unaccustomed to more normal conditions. A Lurcher was delivered to PADS along with the four Greyhounds. It had been with a family and we successfully rehomed it.

Disastrous

“So, not anticipating undue difficulty with the Irish dogs, we readily agreed to take them to help out, with disastrous consequences. The decision to put the four dogs to sleep was reluctantly forced on PADS by the danger they presented, possibly to young children and certainly to smaller animals, which could not be reasonably disregarded. As it was, the dogs had been kept muzzled and on a lead at all times, and their exercise severely restricted which in PADS opinion, is no life for a dog.

“We have rehomed over 4,000 dogs including many Greyhounds and Lurchers since the kennels were opened in 1990. The abuse we have been subjected to on this issue is totally out of proportion.”

Mrs Wright countered this argument vehemently, stating that none of the dogs had displayed aggressive tendencies and that it was normal practice for ex-racing dogs to be muzzled with lightweight ‘basket’ muzzles until they were properly socialised.

“I am seeking legal advice on this matter,” said Mrs Wright. “These dogs have been badly let down by PADS and I still feel sick to my stomach for having sent them to Perthshire. I had hoped that, by now, they might be in new, loving homes. Instead, they are dead.”

Mrs Storm said that PADS would “vigorously defend any legal action, although she conceded that PADS staff had not explored every possibility of ensuring that the dogs’ lives were spared.

“When passed to us, it was assumed that they had become PADS dogs. There was no suggestion that Irish rescue would take them back, this never entered the equation. With the benefit of hindsight perhaps PADS should have contacted the Irish rescue.”