A MEMORIAL service has been held for a greyhound found mutilated and abandoned on a Welsh mountain a year ago.
The black male greyhound, later found to have been called Rusty, was discovered by a dog walker who heard him whimpering in agony in a rubbish tip on Fochriw Mountain in the Rhymney Valley.
As previously reported, Rusty had been injured in several ways, including being shot in the head with a captive-bolt pistol, and his ears had been hacked off because they bore tattoos that could identify him.
Remarkably, Rusty was still alive, and wagging his tail, but his injuries were so extensive that he was later put to sleep by a vet.
On Sunday, May 1st a special ‘Remembering Rusty’ ceremony was held at the place on Fochriw Mountain where he was found. Close on 100 people, many of them accompanied by rescued greyhounds, lurchers and other dogs, attended the very moving event.
After gathering at the nearby Parc Cwm Darran, the participants travelled in a convoy of vehicles to Fochriw Mountain, where the ceremony was held.
Following the laying of flowers, wreaths and tributes at the spot where Rusty was found, Tony Peters, Greyhound Action's UK co-coordinator, explained the reasons for the ceremony and his wife Louise, the organisation's founder, gave a short speech in which she called for an end to dog racing.
A minute’s silence was then observed, after which the Reverend James Thompson, founder of Christians Against All Animal Abuse, conducted a service of prayer and animal protection related hymns in memory of Rusty and of all dogs and other animals that have suffered and died at the hands of the human species.
This was followed by a speech from Alain Thomas of Greyhound Rescue Wales, who played a major part in the bringing of Andrew Gough to justice for Rusty's torture. Alain explained how the concern and furore surrounding the case had "created a watershed" and blown open the traditional secrecy of the greyhound racing industry in the area, inevitably leading to better treatment for the dogs.
A volunteer named Helen from South Devon Greyhound Action (SDGA) then gave a Gaelic blessing for Rusty and read a poem in his memory. She was followed by Mindy from SDGA and volunteer Vanessa from South Wales Greyhound Action, who read poems and messages sent by supporters unable to attend the ceremony.
The participants then returned to Parc Cwm Darran, where the Reverend Thompson gave individual blessings to many of the dogs that had been brought along.
Campaigners, who brought along rescued dogs, claimed the greyhound racing industry is too cruel and want the three dog tracks in South Wales closed.
Tony Peters commented: "Sadly, this case is just the tip of a very large iceberg. Reports by both the All Party Group for Animal Welfare in the Welsh National Assembly and Greyhound Rescue Wales suggest that hundreds of greyhounds are discarded and killed, often by shooting, in the region every year, when no longer required by the racing industry.
"We are asking the public not to attend or bet on dog racing, so it dies out through lack of financial support."
At Caerphilly Magistrates Court on December 22 last year, Andrew Gough was sentenced to six months imprisonment for torturing Rusty and banned from keeping animals for life.
It emerged during Gough's trial that Rusty's owner and trainer had handed him over to Gough to kill, after a toe injury had ended the greyhound's racing career.
South Wales was not the only place where Rusty was remembered, as ceremonies were also held in his memory at several greyhound rescue fundraising events in other parts of the UK.
Tony Peters told OUR DOGS: "We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all those who attended the ceremony or who sent cards, poems and donations towards the event. You all helped to make it an extremely moving and successful day, which was a fitting tribute to Rusty and all other greyhounds that have suffered and died at the hands of their exploiters."
The group’s JUSTICE FOR RUSTY campaign is now being continued by Greyhound Action’s South Wales branch, who will be lobbying the relevant local authorities and the Welsh National Assembly to do all in their powers to close the region's three dog tracks. Special leaflets and posters will need to be produced in order to gain public support. Any donations towards the cost of these would be very gratefully received. Please make cheques/POs payable to Greyhound Action (write Justice for Rusty on the back) and send to Justice for Rusty, Greyhound Action, PO Box 127, Kidderminster, DY10 3UZ.
The first target of the campaign will be to get John Hurley and Mark Emmett, the owner and trainer of Rusty who handed him over to Andrew Gough to be killed, banned from racing greyhounds at the Bedwellte track. The other two South Wales tracks have banned them but Bedwellte has allegedly allowed them back.
Tony Peters added: "We've been informed by Greyhound Rescue Wales, who paid for Rusty's body to be cremated, that his ashes have been scattered on a mountain called "The Waun" in the Rhondda Valley, where Rusty used to enjoy being taken for a walk."
More info on the Justice for Rusty campaign and the fate of greyhounds and lurchers in Wales can be found at http://www.greyhoundaction.org.uk/justiceForRusty.htm. * Greyhound Action website: www.greyhoundaction.org.uk
Reverend James Thompson conducting the service
Mutley from Avon and Somerset Greyhound Action
Noonoo came all the way from Cambridgeshire to remember Rusty