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Greyhound protest at bookies’ AGM
- shareholders urged to reject dog racing


The Grim Reaper makes his presence felt amongst protestors and dogs in Covent Garden


A DEMONSTRATION was staged against Greyhound racing by supporters of the anti-racing group Greyhound Action.

Holding banners and placards and accompanied by rescued greyhounds, on Thursday, May 19th outside the Annual General Meeting of bookmakers William Hill plc at the Covent Garden Exhibition Centre in London, where they leafleted shareholders going into the meeting as part of a campaign to persuade the company to cease its involvement in greyhound racing and concentrate on humane alternatives, such as virtual (computerised) racing, instead.

One demonstrator was dressed as the Grim Reaper to draw attention to the mass slaughter of dogs which opponents claim is a by-product of the greyhound racing industry, whilst elsewhere in the country, other campaigners leafleted punters going into William Hill betting shops.

Greyhound Action's national coordinator, Tony Peters, said: "William Hill already owns two greyhound stadiums (at Sunderland and Newcastle-upon-Tyne) and is rumoured to be about to purchase a third. In addition, the company pours millions of pounds into greyhound racing every year, through its betting-shops, on-line betting and digital racing channel."

Mr Peters pointed out that each year as many as 40,000 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 three years old. Only a few percent of these 'unwanted' greyhounds will find good homes. Most of them are either killed or face an even worse fate.

"Those which are put to sleep by a vet can count themselves lucky. Many are just abandoned or are killed by a variety of horrific methods, such as clubbing, drowning or injection with poisonous substances," added Mr Peters. "The shooting of ex-racing greyhounds by trainers is quite commonplace and and several mass graves containing the bodies of shot greyhounds have been discovered in recent years.

"In addition 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. With William Hill shareholders being, almost certainly, unaware of the death and suffering caused by the dog racing industry, we wanted to educate them about this and persuade them that, morally and financially, it would be better for the company to disengage from greyhound racing."

Virtual racing on the Internet has rapidly increased in popularity over the past few years, whereas the greyhound racing industry has been in decline, with dozens of tracks closing in recent years. This process is likely to continue as more and more people become aware of the tragic fate of so many of the dogs involved and boycott tracks.

Mr Peters concluded: "For this reason, it would make sound economic sense for William Hill to transfer its resources from live greyhound racing to its virtual equivalent, and thousands of dogs would be spared from suffering and an untimely death in the process.

"We are very pleased with how our picket went. A number of shareholders stopped to speak to us and were very sympathetic towards our point of view. Several appeared shocked when we told them about the fate of the dogs and William Hill's involvement in this and said they would try to do something to change the situation."

William Hill plc and the Greyhound Racing Association declined to comment.
* Greyhound Action website at www.greyhoundaction.org.uk