Almost thirty protestors, many accompanied by rescued greyhounds, took part in a demonstration outside the Fleet Street branch of William Hill in Torquay on Saturday 3rd June 2006. The demonstration organised by South Devon Greyhound Action was part of a national day of action against the William Hill bookmakers.
Helen Stevens, spokesperson for the local greyhound protection group said, ‘Saturday 3rd June 2006 was Greyhound Derby Day which is the biggest racing event of the year for the greyhound racing industry. This industry is responsible for the death and suffering of tens of thousands of greyhounds every year and in protest against the Greyhound Derby and the industry as a whole, South Devon Greyhound Action decided to hold a demonstration outside the William Hill betting shop in Fleet Street, Torquay.
‘The demonstration on Saturday included a march through the town centre. Demonstrators, many accompanied by rescued greyhounds, were dressed in black, wearing ‘death masks’ and carrying banners and placards. The procession was led by a supporter dressed as the ‘Grim Reaper’ and the marchers were accompanied by the solemn beat of a drum. We ended our march in the Union Square shopping precinct where we set up an information stall enabling members of the public to sign our petitions whilst supporters handed out leaflets.
‘William Hill are the largest Bookmakers in the UK pouring millions of pounds into the greyhound racing industry every year via their betting shops, on-line betting and digital racing channel, they also own two greyhound stadiums (Sunderland and Newcastle-upon-Tyne) and are the sponsor for the Greyhound Derby.
‘By demonstrating outside the William Hill betting shop, SDGA were able to educate the general public about the horrific truth behind the industry, encouraging people not to bet on the dogs and urging William Hill to ‘go virtual’ in support of Greyhound Action UK's 'Virtual Virtues' campaign which aims to persuade bookmakers to cease involvement in live greyhound racing and instead concentrate on virtual (computerised) racing which involves no suffering or killing of dogs.
‘Many people are not aware that when they bet on greyhounds, they are helping to finance an industry that is responsible for the deaths and suffering of thousands of these beautiful dogs every year.
‘Thousands of greyhounds sustain injuries whilst racing on tracks every year, some dogs are raced while still injured. Many pups and young greyhounds are killed before they even enter racing because they don’t come up to the required standard. The average age of a retired racing greyhound is only 3 years old. Once these dogs are considered to be of no more use to the industry then many of them are abandoned or killed. Greyhounds are sometimes disposed of by horrific methods such as drowning, beating, poisoning or shooting.
‘Many greyhounds are found abandoned often with their ears cut off removing identifying tattoos which can trace the dog back to its‚owner, some have been found emaciated and covered in cigarette burns.
‘SDGA are delighted with the tremendous support we have received from the general public as more and more people are made aware of the horrific cruelty involved with greyhound racing and we are determined to continue putting the message out there, encouraging people NOT to bet on greyhound racing and NOT to support it.’