A greyhound advocate started a petition to have greyhound racing in the UK phased out. We are appealing to our supporters to sign it. At 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for discussion in Parliament. The petition was launched in response to the publication of the racing industry’s 2017 data for injuries and end of life. This was the first time ever, in racing’s 92 year history, that the industry published its statistics.
The 2017 data revealed that 1,013 greyhounds died within the racing industry: 257 on the track; and 590 (58% of total deaths) were destroyed due to injury. This naturally gives rise to the question as to how these fatal injuries arose. Professor Andrew Knight’s (Animal Welfare & Ethics, Winchester University) report, Injuries In Racing Greyhounds, Prof. Andrew Knight demonstrates the problem with ovoid tracks and their composition. He shows the combination of racing at speed, distance and track design can all significantly increase the injury risk especially at the first bend when congestion is at its maximum. He explains how the New Zealand Racing Integrity Unit has concluded that 68% of injuries and 75% of fatalities occur on the first bend.
Prof. Knight’s report examines the interesting concept of “bony remodelling” (as the greyhound skeleton seeks to adapt to the increased forces brought about by cornering) and its propensity to increase the risk of resultant injuries in racing greyhounds.
Not surprising then that a published death rate of 5 greyhounds per week on track, anecdotes of adopted greyhounds suffering from legacy injuries, coupled with press coverage of racing atrocities and deplorable training kennels have led the general public to conclude that greyhound racing in the UK should be phased out leading to a nationwide ban. If you agree please do sign the petition (note: the petition shows the industry’s initial figure of 1,003 greyhound deaths, they updated this figure to 1,013 later in the day when the data was published on 14 March 2018).
Greyhound Compassion volunteers have just returned from an action packed visit to the Protectora y Santuario Scooby in Medina del Campo. The four of us tried to cram as much into the trip as we possibly could.
We did the usual cleaning, hosing, tidying, food preparation and sorting jobs and then tried to complement these with a few extras! So many lovely and friendly galgos were in residence. Scooby is expecting many more galgos to be dumped during the early months of the coursing season (now open) because the hares have a mutated form of myxomatosis. This is bound to increase the numbers of galgos coming into the shelter during the winter as hunts will be aborted, not to mention the suffering of the poor hares.
We persuaded the fund-raising committee to delay a shelter open day by one week so that we could help out. Seemed like a good idea at the time but what we didn’t realise was that the weather would be such a big influence (not quite the “come rain or shine” mentality we are used to in the UK). On the open day the weather was chilly and threatened rain but the dedicated Spanish supporters came along for a tour of the shelter and refreshments.
The Brits introduced the idea of a “lucky dip” for the children and another technical game of skill and nerve for the teenagers. Unfortunately somebody let the recently rescued puppies out for the children just as they approached the “lucky dip” – who could compete with half a dozen appealing puppies?
We raised a few Euros in aid of the shelter but can’t help thinking it would have been better not to have interfered and to have left the organisers to capitalise on the sunny weather one week earlier. Still it was good to showcase the animals and hard work of Scooby. In the same week, the Scooby rescuers had completed the last of several visits to a dog collector to rescue many neglected and ill-treated dogs.
We were really pleased to see that work had started on replacing the dilapidated fencing around the enclosures in the oldest part of the shelter – all 800m around corridors 7 and 8. This will improve immensely the conditions for the galgos in the shelter. It gives the dogs the benefit of natural light and fresh air in their outdoor runs but without a transparent view into each others’ territory, withdrawing the opportunity to antagonise each other, or to dig under the fence to reach the neighbours, or break out and go on a tour of the shelter!
Thank you to all of our donors who helped to make this much needed work possible. We launched in January 2018, appealing for €20,000 for the project and reached the target in September with the work starting in October. Donations came from Greyhound Compassion, Galgos Greys and More (Switzerland & Germany), Scooby’s Slovenian marathon runners in the Medina del Campo half marathon, a Dutch craft circle and their on-line auctions as well as some private donations. Thank you!
Protectora y Santuario Scooby benefits from the many volunteers who visit but we’ve come to realise that the written ground rules do not go far enough in today’s world of instant messaging and interactive communications. With this in mind we helped to make a video at the shelter to remind volunteers to respect Scooby as the home of the animals and to show what value volunteers can add when working at the shelter. The film certainly conveys the message but only after a number of outtakes. We had to contend with puppies tormenting the oldies while they were being cleaned out in the background, galgo needle noses poking into the camera, changing weather, poor scripting and very amateur camera skills on a selfie-stick until a fellow volunteer took over. The final product will certainly serve the purpose and what a laugh we had making it!
Last Tuesday Greyhound Compassion was present at the All-party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group (APDAWG) in Portcullis House, London. The theme of the meeting was, “Greyhound Racing in the UK – An Update on Welfare.”
The meeting focussed on what’s happened since the post-implementation review of The Welfare of Racing Greyhound Regulations was signed off by DEFRA in 2016.
Stakeholders from across the debate provided in-depth contributions to the EFRA Select Committee & DEFRA consultations in 2015-2016 to make the case for a high standard of welfare for the tens of thousands of greyhounds racing on British racetracks.
A significant milestone was reached in March 2018 when the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) published, for the first time in racing’s 92 year history in the UK, injury & end of life data in response to the DEFRA review. The publication was accompanied by a new 5 year Greyhound Commitment from the GBGB.
We went along to hear what has changed since 2016 from the expert panel comprising: Mark Bird, MD, GBGB; Trudy Baker, Chair Greyt Exploitations; Professor Andrew Knight, Animal Welfare & Ethics, Winchester University; Clarissa Baldwin OBE, Chair – Greyhound Forum; Nick Weston, Head of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports.
The GBGB presented its 5 year plan to: drive down euthanasia on economic grounds; cement the Greyhound Commitment; and professionalise the racing industry through apprenticeships. The GBGB added that it would be conducting research into the implications of temperature extremes for racing dogs, acknowledging that racing had continued at the majority of tracks during the “beast from the East” winter and 2018 summer heatwave.
The GBGB pointed to its funding decline. High street bookies closing has meant 20% shaved off of their bottom line. The GBGB ’s overriding theme was one of ambition against the backdrop of independent rescues picking up the pieces – way too little, way too late.
Clarissa Baldwin OBE covered the nobility of the greyhound and the origins of the breed. She openly touched on the failures of the GBGB in the past and acknowledged its attempts to put its house in order, and to engage more responsively with the Greyhound Forum (comprising: Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, Dogs Trust, Greyhounds in Need, Forever Hounds Trust, Greyhound Trust, The Kennel Club, Wood Green Animal Shelters and RSPCA). She acknowledged that the greyhound deaths on economic grounds must be eradicated, “no place for trainers who consistently put greyhounds to sleep on economic grounds”. Clarissa recognised that the standard for trainers’ kennels is a BSI document available at a cost and, therefore, many trainers are reluctant to purchase it, thinking they could do without it.
All pretty tame, nothing new up to this point of the meeting. Step forward Trudy Baker, Andrew Knight and Nick Weston and it was clear that the GBGB had been defending the indefensible.
Trudy, of Greyt Exploitations, revealed how the GBGB has not complied with its formal agreement with DEFRA because it has not fully published the methods by which greyhounds left racing in 2017. Independent racing, racing abroad and other uses (which would include for research and/or dissection) are missing, yet they are categories on the GBGB Retirement Forms.
Greyt Exploitations also questioned why track fatalities declined rapidly between 2014 and 2017 while the rates for hock and wrist injuries have nearly doubled. It could be that in the face of having to publish death rates, the industry has taken steps to treat more injured greyhounds or it could simply mean that less greyhounds are destroyed trackside by a vet and more away from the track and by unknown methods – which is concerning.
Greyt Exploitations’ own data showed 798 more injuries than the GBGB statistics. Greyt Exploitations illustrated the point of “missing” greyhounds with reference to a Greyhound Star article which noted that Ireland exported 11,034 greyhounds in 2017 predominantly to the UK. In the same year there were 1,497 British bred greyhounds making a total of 12,531 dogs, yet in 2017 only 8,094 were registered to race on GBGB tracks. Where are these 4,437 greyhounds?
We heard from Greyt Exploitations that the GBGB has failed to to obtain UKAS accreditation of trainers’ kennels by its agreed deadline of December 2017. Although the PAS came into effect in December 2017, UKAS confirmed as recently as 25 October 2018 there has been no extension to the scope of accreditation to include trainers’ kennels.
As if there was nothing left to question, Professor Knight blew some very crucial arguments out of the water. He very interestingly touched on “bony remodelling” whereby a racing greyhound’s skeleton adapts to propulsive forces and reabsorbs calcium from some areas and deposits it in others, increasing the chances of bone fractures.
Prof. Knight provided the GBGB with some food for thought if racing is going to continue in the UK and have a better welfare standard:
Nick Weston described how the League Against Cruel Sports is calling for a phased out ban given the GBGB’s failed attempts at reform, calling it “untenable and unacceptable that these animals have died for someone else’s enjoyment”.
We are posting the presentations we could obtain for our readers’ interest. Please do read them, this was a fact packed meeting with some very revelatory material.
The quote of the night goes to Prof. Andrew Knight: “there is misuse of the term euthanasia by this industry, I am going to use the correct term – killing.”
And action point of the night goes to the two MPs who chaired the debate admirably (Andrea Jenkyns and Anna Turley) – both agreed to keep greyhound welfare uppermost on the Parliamentary agenda. Quite a watershed moment for the greyhounds – APDAWG was an occasion for wider dissemination of some of the complexities of greyhound racing and many members of the audience welcomed the informative content.
What a cracking day at PupAid yesterday! Such a warm and relieved atmosphere, one of palpable success – #lucyslaw will come into force on 1 October after a 9 year campaign. A strong team of just a few volunteers, led by Marc Abraham, reached the goal to ban puppy farming having battled the pet industry and the big welfare charities who should have achieved this objective tens of years ago.
Great day for the pointies too, Greyhound Ambassador, Magic, for Quaker Concern for Animals and Greyhound Compassion met up with Josh Burrell @jb-new of Lookdwn.com and joined him on his press pass in the VIP area. Great to meet so many welfare minded celebs and journalists who sympathised with the poor greyhounds within the racing industry, astounded by the GBGB’s own stats that 1,013 “were put to sleep or suffered sudden/natural death”, 25.4% trackside in 2017.
We took a few photos for the ambassadorial album.
Magic – a credit to his rescuers at Greyhound Rescue.
Today Magic, the Greyhound Ambassador for Greyhound Compassion and Quaker Concern for Animals, was invited to visit the “holidaymakers” at St. Mary’s Church’s (Marshalswick) “Holiday at Home” week (6 – 9 August).
“Holiday at Home” is hosted by St. Mary’s Church for parishioners who are 75 and over. The week includes 4 days of activities and excursions, as well as lunches and all refreshments. Monday saw watercolour classes and a beetle drive, yesterday was the visit to a garden centre. Today’s events included a magician’s act in addition to a talk by Greyhound Compassion complete with Magic the greyhound.
Magic took Petal, the galgo, along to tell the holidaymakers about Greyhound Compassion, the link with Quaker Concern for Animals and to talk to them about greyhound racing. He also, without much effort, showed them what fabulous pets greyhounds make. We also covered the plight of the galgos and the work of Protectora y Santuario Scooby in Spain.
It was a really lovely event. The dogs were met with a very warm welcome with great company and a very friendly atmosphere. Magic and Petal seemed to go down a storm too.
We’re really honoured to have the support of Quaker Concern for Animals (QCA) on two initiatives which will help our charitable objectives.
Magic, a rescued racer from Nottingham track, was adopted by one of the Greyhound Compassion Trustees a couple of years ago. He finished racing one Saturday night in March 2016 at the age of 5, having raced 120 times. Now he’s a firm favourite on a different circuit – spreading the word about the plight of racing greyhounds and fund-raising for those less fortunate than him.
So far this year he has given a talk to his local Women’s Institute, presided at the Greyhound Compassion fun dog show, but left the judging to the judge, and has been an Ambassador for many less fortunate greyhounds at 7 Greyhound Compassion flag days. These “meet and greets” are a good way of spreading the word about the vast numbers of greyhounds needing homes and talking to the public about the greyhound racing. They are often surprised that greyhounds race from morning until night so that racing can be streamed to high street bookies and around the internet. The other disturbing fact is that the racing industry published its injury and end of life stats for the first time this year and revealed that 1,013 racing greyhounds were put to sleep or suffered sudden/natural death in 2017, 25% of which took place at the track. There were 4,837 injuries last year.
Magic becomes Greyhound Ambassador for QCA & GC
Magic’s next set of diary engagements will now embrace his new role for QCA – he is to be an official “Ambassador” for greyhounds at Greyhound Compassion’s events and QCA will report on his activities from time to time and contribute to Greyhound Compassion’s charitable projects where possible. These include funds towards subsistence, vet care and kennel maintenance for greyhounds and galgos at Greyhound Rescue (Lincolnshire), Protectora y Santuario Scooby and Limerick Animal Welfare.
Magic’s calendar over the next few weeks includes Greyhound Compassion flag days on 25 August in Welwyn Garden City and on 8 September in Hertford. However, his biggest engagement this summer will be the Greyhound Rescue Sponsored Walk in Pinewoods, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, in memory of Freya. Freya was rescued from greyhound racing a few years ago. She suffered a terrible trauma while racing which meant she could not be homed from the Lincolnshire shelter. One attempt at homing didn’t work out, devastating her adopted family, but it wasn’t to be. Instead she lived her life out at the shelter where she came to trust her carers. She played happily with them but could not face the rest of the world. Sadly she passed away last year. Now Greyhound Rescue is holding a sponsored walk or walk for a donation in her memory.
You Can Sponsor Magic On The Pinewoods Walk In Freya’s memory
If you would like to sponsor Magic on the walk or make a donation, please email us at email@example.com
QCA GETS BEHIND BRISA THE GALGO
The second aspect of our relationship with QCA is about support for a special galgo – Brisa. Brisa was rescued earlier this year as part of a pack of hunting dogs of various breeds including beagles, bassets, fox hounds, terriers, galgos and dogo argentinos. They were held by one man and rented out to hunters on their boar hunting excursions. Protectora y Santuario Scooby rescued all of the 36 dogs from unprecedented circumstances of neglect and animal abuse. Scooby is taking legal action against the pack owner. This was a situation in which dogs were killing each other, sickening evidence of this has been given to the authorities. The dogs were malnourished and on the verge of death, all were covered in fleas and ticks and several have tick borne diseases.
Scooby is appealing for funds to cover the veterinary treatment for the dogs and the costs of mounting a legal case against the perpetrator of the cruelty. We have hope because a previous prosecution brought by Scooby against an owner of neglected horses and donkeys resulted in a 6 month suspended jail sentence and prohibition from owning animals for 2 years. We hope Scooby can be successful in this latest case too.
Brisa is an older lady from the pack and is now living with Fermin Perez of Scooby in special care at his home. The court has placed her in Fermin’s care while the formal complaint is completed. Although Brisa has made progress, she does have Ehrlichiosis and this needs regular treatment with antibiotics (doxycyclilne). Eventually, when she is fit and after the court case, Scooby will be able to spay her.
Although Brisa shows signs of having been a keen hunting dog, she is adjusting to living with the rescued geese and ducks and other animals at Scooby. She is very sweet, quiet, patient and walks obediently by Fermin’s side. She doesn’t have an aggressive bone in her body. The relief she feels to be comfortable, safe and secure is immense.
QCA is going to sponsor Brisa and contribute to the costs of her care, for which we are very grateful.
We wrote to Clarissa Baldwin CBE, Chair of the Greyhound Forum, to ask what advice the Forum has been giving track managers in this heatwave when the guidance to pet dog owners has been to take all precautions to avoid heatstroke.
The response from Clarissa Baldwin CBE (Chair of the Greyhound Forum) acknowledged that the hot weather situation in racing is appalling and assured us that the Forum members were pressing for industry reform. The reply indicated that whilst the hot weather posters were sent to all tracks, there are currently no sanctions on tracks that continue to race when welfare of the greyhounds could be compromised. The Forum is asking for some proper scientific research, a Rule added to the Rule Book and then heavy sanctions on those that disregard it.
We responded by questioning why scientific research is needed when the dangers of exercising dogs in hot weather are already well-known. Indeed the RSPCA website has seasonal advice for dog owners. We also wondered why the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB), as the regulator, couldn’t act to change or apply a special regulation in these extreme circumstances. All of this was accepted by the Chair and she informed us that talks were being held yesterday.
In parallel with this email correspondence we discovered that the GBGB had issued hot weather advice yesterday (in full below) which included: the track vet’s advice will be respected and racing managers are advised not to hold 6 bend races during the day. In our view this is not good enough for obvious reasons and implies the track vet’s advice is not always respected.
On the other hand the Irish Greyhound Board has suspended all trials and racing between 10am and 7:30pm (full details below) and has deferred key races. Both IGB and GBGB issued a veterinary advice bulletin about caring for racing greyhounds (both are below). Surprisingly the GBGB advice note indicates that some have advocated putting the greyhound in an open chest freezer. Thankfully the vet has rejected this idea warning of a real risk of freezer burns to the feet and any wetted skin.
It’s good that the IGB has taken these welcome steps and we think the GBGB should follow suit. We are surprised the GBGB has not taken adequate steps especially as yesterday was the first day of the GBGB’s new Chairman, formerly CEO of the RSPCA.
Here we are trying to keep our rescued racers cool in afternoon temperatures of 25º, listening to reports of the Saddleworth Moor fire and reading intermittent bulletins about how to keep the elderly, our children and pet dogs comfortable in these record temperatures. We’re following all the advice reminding us that a dog cools only through his tongue and paws; advising us not to exercise our dogs in the heat of the day or on hot surfaces to avoid burned pads or worse, heatstroke. Having read a particularly gruelling report about heatstroke in dogs and in one particular pet dog in our area who sadly died of heatstroke today after his morning exercise, we checked just what the greyhound racing timetable in the UK for today looks like. We wondered if the tracks might have cancelled some race meetings. After all, if pet owners are not supposed to exercise their dogs in extremely high temperatures, surely greyhounds are not racing at 40mph around tracks at 2pm in the afternoon?
No, it’s worse than imagined, racing started at 10:29am today, probably just as the canine victim of heatstroke died in his local surgery, 20 minutes after arriving there from his morning exercise. The screenshots from the online greyhound racing information reveal that greyhound racing is definitely not being cancelled in this extreme heat.
The races commenced today at 10:29 and finish tonight at 22:45, just as we are starting to follow the TV doctors’ advice about keeping cool at night to ensure we sleep well through a hot and sticky slumber. When cross-referencing the race start times during the day with the weather forecast for the track locations, the temperatures range from 18º (with a “feels like” temperature of 20º) to 27º (with a “feels like” temperature of 28º). The evening to nighttime temperatures range from 19º to 23º, and 16º when the 22:45 race starts.
Isn’t this too much? Doesn’t racing in this extremely hot weather contradict all the advice we’re receiving for our pet dogs and their daily exercise?
Having cross-referenced with the weather forecast, we turned to The Greyhound Commitment announced by the The Greyhound Board of Great Britain on 14 March 2018. You can read The Commitment in full here. How does racing in this week’s hot weather gel with these sections of The Greyhound Commitment?
Doesn’t seem very committed, not much fun or enjoyment for the greyhounds racing in 27º.
Still, a former CEO of the RSPCA joins the Greyhound Board of Great Britain next week as its Chairman. Perhaps on Sunday night he’ll watch the long-range weather forecast for his first week in the job and cancel the racing if the hot weather continues.
There are no words to pay tribute to Mary Organ of Dungarvan Rescue but we’re going to try! Mary is a formidable lady with limitless compassion, drive, empathy, courage, tenacity and expertise. Mary rescued so many dogs, German Shepherds, Greyhounds, Lurchers and many, many other mixes and breed types. All of them were needy in the most extreme circumstances.
Mary was always perfectly comfortable about speaking out against the racing industry and perpetrators of cruelty. She managed this admirably without putting any rescue mission or dog in jeopardy. Never scared to convey the truth.
We came to know her personally when she rescued our lovely black lurcher, Spirit, who was saved from a fate worse than death with bailing twine embedded in and tightening around her oesophagus. Spirit survived thanks to Mary giving her mouth to mouth resuscitation, the ultimate skill of the vet stitching her almost fully severed neck, and Spirit’s own spirit (now you know how she got her name!). After her rehabilitation she became famous for her literally “warm licks”. Without Mary she would not have survived like so many other dogs saved and transformed by Mary’s hands-on care.
Mary worked tirelessly for the dogs in her rescue. She ran it single-handedly and the facilities were a reflection of Mary’s perfectionism for the welfare of the hounds living there.
We were, of course, sad to hear that Mary would be retiring from rescue. The welfare world’s loss is retirement’s gain and we hope that Mary enjoys what the future brings and wish her the absolute best of health and happiness…. With lots of warm licks!
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