BOOTS, THE UKs leading high street chemist, has bowed to pressure from dog lovers around the UK and indeed, the world, and dropped a controversial promotion selling tickets to greyhound racing.
As reported exclusively in last week’s OUR DOGS, the promotion for Greyhound racing was listed as a special ‘gift’ which could be purchased at Boots chemist online. Customers get 100 extra Advantage points when you book.
The Boots website promoted the offer in the following terms: "Special Offer! Greyhound Racing for Two! Enjoy the fun of greyhound racing.
With an estimated £2.25 billion wagered on and off course and £11 million in prize money greyhound racing is an absolute 'must have' experience. At most tracks there's a race taking place every 15 minutes, which means non-stop action. Trying to pick the winner just adds fun to the evening. You can choose which track you want to go to: London, Manchester, Oxford, Portsmouth, Birmingham; Sunderland, Tyne & Wear; Byker, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne."
The promotion was being sold through Boots at the instigation of a marketing company called Gift Experience Supplier.
Although the company had been inundated with complaints from dog lovers across the UK and from around the world, all of who oppose greyhound racing on welfare grounds, Boots remained steadfast in their resolve to continue the promotion, even though they were faced with the threat of demonstrations being taken to their stores.
The international greyhound protection organisation Greyhound Action had decided to stage protests outside Boots stores up and down the country, calling on the public to boycott the company until they cease promoting greyhound racing.
However, within a week of receiving the first complaint about the sale of greyhound racing tickets on their website, Boots have withdrawn the promotion and removed the item from their site.
In response, Greyhound Action that organised publicity against the store’s promotion has thanked Boots for their "wise and humane decision" and called off the Day of Action it had planned against the company for June 25th.
Initially, Boots’ response to complaints from Greyhound Action against the promotion had been bullish; however, in a new message to people protesting at the promotion, David Marmion of Boots Customer Care wrote:
"We've reviewed sales of our Greyhound Experience product and looked at all the feedback we've received from our customers. The product is not a key line for us and sales suggest our customers are not hugely interested in it. After taking all this into account, we've decided to stop selling this product."
Whatever PR spin the company puts on their decision, the company’s response clearly demonstrate the power of ordinary dog lovers with a united voice against questionable corporate business practices in which canine welfare may be compromised.
Greyhound Action's UK coordinator, Tony Peters, said:
"We are extremely grateful to everyone who complained to Boots, either by phone, letter or e-mail. They have all helped to win another important victory in the battle to protect greyhounds from slaughter and suffering.
"Many of our supporters are also customers of Boots, so the company would have lost a considerable amount of revenue through people refusing to shop with them while the dog racing promotion continued.
"Thousands of greyhounds suffer and die every year at the hands of the dog racing industry, so it is vital that members of the public are discouraged from attending greyhound racing."
Mr Peters added "We are very thankful that they withdrew the promotion, and we have urged all our supporters to send them messages of thanks for this wise and humane decision.
"We had a very big Day of Action all geared up for June 25th, with people all over the country getting ready to protest outside their local branches of Boots, but we're very happy that this now doesn't need to go ahead."