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‘Stadium of death’ closes


Jenny, the Greyhound was abandoned by her trainer
at the Abbey Moor stadium last December

GREYHOUND WELFARE campaigners were celebrating last week following the announcement that Glastonbury's Abbey Moor stadium will no longer host greyhound racing.

In a written statement, stadium owner Peter Toogood confirmed that there would be no more greyhound racing at the Glastonbury track.

The stadium – which also houses a football pitch - controversially re-introduced greyhound racing in October 2005 and animal rescue workers were concerned at the cruelty endured by dogs during racing and their neglect when they are no longer fit to race. "We are delighted that Mr Toogood has decided to call a halt to greyhound racing at the Abbey Moor stadium. This is a great victory for animal welfare in the west country," said Dave Garland, spokesman for Avon & Somerset Greyhound Action.

"Just a few weeks ago a dog died after breaking his neck while racing at the Glastonbury stadium. In December a young greyhound was abandoned at the track and another trainer was reported to the RSPCA after threatening to shoot his dog. Many greyhounds are injured while racing and thousands are killed or abandoned across the UK every year.

This is the last independent ‘flapping’ track in the south west and we are concerned that some trainers will now euthanise their dogs as they have nowhere to race them. We are appealing to trainers to contact their local rescue centres to find new homes for their dogs rather than abandon them or have them killed. Greyhounds are very loving dogs and they make great family pets. There is no need for any animal to be destroyed."

A letter will also be sent by ASGA to every veterinary surgery in the Somerset area urging them not to put unwanted greyhounds to sleep. There are many animal rescue groups in the southwest willing to help find homes for the dogs.

The news of the closure came as a huge surprise to campaigners. Supporters of Avon & Somerset Greyhound Action had gathered for a demonstration outside Mr Toogood’s offices in Salisbury on Monday, March 6th, and were surprised to be met by Mr Toogood, who told them: "You've won, it's over, I'm giving up."

Mr Toogood then went into his offices and came out a few minutes later with the following written statement:- This is to officially confirm that I have today telephoned the greyhound operators and advised them that due to more vandalism which is also putting the football club in jeopardy there will be no more greyhound racing at Abbey Moor Stadium Glastonbury.

Toogood was referring to yet another attack on the stadium by the Animal Liberation Front, which was reported on the Western Animal Rights Network website:

News of the track’s closure was flashed across the Internet within minutes of the announcement being made. Many welfare campaigners feared a hoax to begin with, thinking that the news was "too good to be true". However, when the veracity of the statement was confirmed, there was great celebration amongst the many Greyhound and Lurcher welfare groups.

There is little doubt that the ALF actions at the stadium contributed significantly to Toogood's decision to close the dog track. Protesters also felt that it was obvious that Toogood was very perturbed at the prospect of a demonstration outside his offices and the fact that the ASGA campaign was now extending beyond protests outside the stadium and starting to target him on a personal level. He may also have heard that next in the pipeline was a march to his home address.

After Toogood brought greyhound racing back to Abbey Moor Stadium last October, there were many reports of injuries to dogs, culminating in the tragic death of Snowstorm in January this year (as reported previously by OUR DOGS), and several incidents of ill-treatment of greyhounds by trainers. One greyhound named Jenny was callously abandoned by her trainer at a meeting last December and handed to protesters gathered outside the stadium, the trainer declaring that she was "no good to him any more".

However, such incidents are now a thing of the past at Abbey Moor stadium, which will revert to simply being a football stadium. Campaigners have ensured that the last greyhound race in Glastonbury has been run.

* Trainers can contact the Greyhound and Lurcher Welfare & Rescue hotline on 07931 834 283 who will find homes for any greyhounds in need.