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In memory of the Greyhounds by Anne Mears

GREYHOUNDS HAVE been getting a shoddy deal over the years, especially ex-racing dogs.

Thankfully, there are a number of excellent charities that exist to rescue and rehome unwanted and often abused Greyhounds. To this end, the need for greater awareness of the Greyhounds’ plight has never been more urgent. However, hopefully, this past weekend the general public will have had their awareness raised, thanks to a combined effort by a number of the UK’s greyhound charities.

Events were held all across the country, with floral tributes being laid at Greyhound Stadiums in memory of the dogs that die for the industry each year. One such event was the Fun Dog Show in Exeter last Sunday, staged by Greyhound Compassion, a small registered charity which has been set up to try to help improve the lives of thousands of greyhounds in both the UK and other countries where racing and hunting with greyhounds takes place. The weather was perfect for dogs and people alike, being warm but cloudy with a good breeze. There were 24 classes so all could have fun and take part regardless of looks or pedigree, and plenty of stalls had goodies to tempt owners to part with their money in aid of a good cause.

The show was opened with a short speech by Sally Slater, co-ordinator of Greyhound Compassion, detailing the plight of ex-racing greyhounds and their continental counterparts, and followed with a prayer to remember those who have suffered and to ask for the strength to carry on with the work. All dogs were welcome, but, fittingly, greyhounds and their fellow ‘long dogs’ took centre stage. Lurchers, whippets and even Galgos (Spanish Greyhounds) were present, and without exception all were excellent ambassadors for their kind, being gentle with children and happy with other dogs, calm, biddable and loving – a far cry from the traditional view of them as killing machines who can only join the world when muzzled and leashed and whose aloof manner and intense exercise requirements make them unfit to be family pets. This statement was greeted with gales of laughter by many owners present, who good-naturedly refuted it with tales of greyhounds spending all day snoring on the sofa after a 20 minute walk – often using a cat as a pillow! Greyhounds, it seems, are in fact the canine equivalent of the couch potato!

When one considers that according to the Retired Greyhound Trust, the racing industry’s own charity, approximately 9,000 greyhounds retire from racing each year, typically aged between four and six years, and that the average greyhound can live to be 12, it becomes easy to see why there is such a huge number of dogs needing to find homes. The RGT claims to home around 2,000 dogs annually – so what happens to the other 7,000? Add to that figure the unregistered greyhounds found in animal shelters all across the country, and that gives an observer some indication of the sheer enormity of the problem.