Nationwide events held in memory
OVER THE weekend of July 23rd and 24th, Greyhound protection campaigners all over the country, together with their rescued greyhounds, held street stalls, pickets and remembrance ceremonies as part of Greyhound Remembrance Weekend, a national event organised by greyhound protection group Greyhound Action.
As previously reported, greyhound racing started in Britain (at Belle Vue, Manchester) 79 years ago this month and Greyhound Remembrance Weekend was held in memory of the hundreds of thousands of dogs which Greyhound Action claim have suffered and died at the hands of unscrupulous owners and trainers since that day.
On Saturday, July 23rd, Greyhound Action supporters set up street stalls, picketed betting shops and held demonstrations outside greyhound tracks to educate the public about the suffering caused by elements of the dog racing industry and to persuade them not to attend or bet on greyhound racing.
The following day, Sunday 24th, there were bigger events, including remembrance ceremonies, when wreaths and flowers were laid outside greyhound stadiums and campaigners, carrying banners and placards, with many accompanied by their rescued greyhounds, held a minute's silence in memory of the many thousands of victims of commercial greyhound racing.
Tony Peters, national co-ordinator of Greyhound Action, said: "Most people are not aware that the UK greyhound racing industry is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of greyhounds every year. These dogs are killed, either because they are not suitable for racing or because their racing careers are over.
"Each year over 30,000 greyhounds are bred in the British Isles, mostly to supply the demands of the UK greyhound racing industry. The vast majority of these dogs will be disposed of by the industry before they are 3 years old.
"Only a few percent of these 'unwanted' greyhounds will find good homes. Most are either killed or face an even worse fate. Since greyhound racing started in this country hundreds of thousands of greyhounds have been put to death, and the figure could easily be over a million."
Mr Peters pointed out that those dogs which are put to sleep by a vet were fortunate, as many others are abandoned or are killed by a variety of horrific methods, such as clubbing, drowning or injection with poisonous substances. Investigations have allegedly revealed that the shooting of ex-racing greyhounds by some trainers to be quite commonplace and several mass graves containing the bodies of shot greyhounds have been reportedly discovered in recent years.
Official Greyhound racing industry statistics show that around 10,000 racing Greyhounds are registered every year, of which 80% are Irish and 20% British, although the figure jumped to 13,000 in 2004 as a direct result of increased fixtures for betting shops, often referred to as ‘BAGS’ racing. The racing industry’s official welfare body the Retired Greyhound Trust re-homed 3,000 ex-racing dogs in 2004.
However, Greyhound Action say that this is too little, too late.
In addition to the deaths of so many dogs, there are thousands of injuries, many of them serious, caused to greyhounds running on British tracks every year, because the shape of the tracks, with long straights leading into tight bends, creates a very dangerous environment for the dogs to run in.
"Greyhound Action believes that the only real solution to this horrific state of affairs is for commercial greyhound racing to be ended," said Mr Peters. "There is no way that any more than a tiny percentage of all these greyhounds can be found good homes in a situation where tens of thousands of ordinary dogs are put to sleep annually by local authorities, the RSPCA and other organisations because homes are not available for them."
Campaigners are delighted with the success of Greyhound Remembrance Weekend with most events being very well-attended, despite the appalling weather in many parts of the country.
Anyone wanting further information should contact Greyhound Action at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01562 745778. To learn more, take a look at the Greyhound Action website at www.greyhoundaction.org.uk