As you hear the gentle clink of ice cubes and fizz of tonic in your summer G&T and recline in your deckchair, iPad in hand, soaking up the sun (having soaked up the rain already) and contemplate what you could do from the comfort of your lounger to raise funds for the greyhounds and galgos, please consider these 5 things:
1. Buy a handmade iPad/iPhone cushion from £5 to lodge your iPad firmly on your lap before progressing to the next 4 things….
2. Sort out your jewellery and donate your unwanted pieces (gold, silver and costume jewellery) to Greyhound Compassion. We have a reliable and fair supporter who is a jewellery expert and will buy donated jewellery from Greyhound Compassion.
3. Register Greyhound Compassion as your preferred cause on Easyfundraising – “feel good shopping”. When you shop online, from groceries to getaways, you could be raising funds for Greyhound Compassion if you shop with any of over 3,000 well-known retailers via Easyfundraising and a percentage of your spend is donated to Greyhound Compassion at no additional cost to you. It’s also possible to Gift Aid the donation. Thanks to 11 shoppers we have raised £388.93 from Easyfundraising over the last 3 – 4 years. Please help us to boost this with your weekly shop! If only you’d nominated Greyhound Compassion when you booked that flight to your beachside deckchair now!
4. Sponsor – A – Hound online as a birthday or Christmas gift for a friend or relative, or treat yourself.
5. Renew your Greyhound Compassion membership online for just £5 per annum. You’ll receive our annual newsletter and a Greyhound Compassion lapel pin.
Every year we make sure Greyhound Compassion’s outgoings pay tangible expenses for the shelters we support and last year was no exception. Scooby had finance for renovations to the galgo enclosures. Dungarvan had help for the rescue of 10 greyhounds from filthy conditions. We contributed to the transport preparation costs for the Limerick greyhounds going to their homes in Italy. The Lincolnshire greyhounds nearly had a chilly Christmas when the boiler in their kennels stopped working and we paid towards a replacement. So thanks to you, were able to hit the spot with our funds as our Annual Review shows.
We hope to see you at our fund-raising events this year.
If you are not able to join us, perhaps you’d consider one of the “five things from your deckchair” and help us to continue helping the greyhounds and galgos. Thank you.
This year we are appealing for funds to build an 800m brick wall to replace dilapidated fencing at Protectora y Santuario Scooby….
There is a corridor which provides access to the galgos in 15 – 20 runs and the surrounding fencing is in dire need of replacement. It needs to be replaced with bricks up to shoulder height (human shoulder height) and then chain link fencing on top. This 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! This corridor and its passages amounts to 800m of enclosures. This is a large-scale project and we estimate the cost will be €20,000.
We will help Scooby with the fund-raising appeal for these needs which are critical for the shelter’s survival as a much-needed galgo refuge. Thanks to your support and donations, we already have £3,000 towards these renovations. A Facebook auction organised by a small group of friends in Holland (but not a Dutch auction!) raised €5,000 for the brickwork and 4 young, Slovenian volunteers are being sponsored to run the Medina del Campo (home of the Scooby shelter) 10k run and so far we have pledges of €3,710. This means we still have to raise €7,900 We will also apply to grant funding bodies for assistance. If you would like to donate towards the new brickwork, or know a company interested in sponsoring the wall (complete with advertising!) please let us know
Fermin Perez is President of Scooby in Spain. He has led its development from a refuge for stray dogs and cats in a disused ruin, to a purpose-built shelter with running water, electricity and an onsite clinic. Fermin talks to Greyhound Compassion about Scooby’s journey – and the hundreds of abused galgos that are saved by Scooby every year.
Greyhound Compassion (GC): Fermin, how did you start with these galgos?
Fermin: Well, I am a science teacher in a secondary school and many years ago, one pupil came to me, not knowing what to do, because his uncle (a galguero) was going to hang his galgo. I was shocked. It was then I went to the pine groves on the outskirts of Medina del Campo and saw with my own eyes the hanging galgo corpses in the trees. I used my camera and blasted the evidence far and wide. This shamed the local galgueros into stopping the hangings. Now, they surrender them to Scooby at the end of the coursing season or they leave them to stray in the streets. We pick them up, often the victims of a car accident by that time.
GC: Have the hangings stopped?
Fermin: They have more or less stopped in Medina del Campo. Occasionally, we come across a galgo corpse in the woods which is always very tragic but rare nowadays. At the end of the last coursing season in 2018 we rescued a pregnant female galgo with deep wounds in her neck (pictured below). She had almost certainly got herself down from a noose, made her way into the village centre before collapsing.
Greyhound Rescue, Lincolnshire is one of the shelters Greyhound Compassion supports and we asked them to update us on their activities.
Well, here we are with our letter to you which normally comes from our sponsor dog Freya who has been very good over the years at writing them and letting you all know what has been happening here at the rescue and keeping you informed on all her pals.
As you may have already seen, Freya was taken from us suddenly after a very quick and unexpected illness and we can only say that life in the kennels has not been the same without that remarkable little girl’s presence.
She was a joy to be around, always happy and skipped out of the kennels every morning and teatime. We miss that skip, that love she gave us back in bundles.
So to you Freya, a big hole in our hearts and a massive emptiness in a very full kennel block young lady. What an impact you made.
So we have to do your write up with tears running down our faces as we remember you and how all the other dogs were so worried about you…and we remember also Solo, who was a lifetime kennel dog who we lost on 23 December after a short illness. She was in with her 21 year old mum Opal, who is now coping well again after getting her new kennel mate Gem.
With rescue comes sadness, heartache, as much as reward. More so. We must not dwell, Freya would be saying, and all the others that went before her. But we are only human. Just the same as our owners…we just don’t get the same time to grieve.
We have to carry on for the others and the next one that is going to fill that empty kennel, however hard we find it.
And sometimes even we don’t know how we get through it. It can become clockwork for a while and we just ‘stop thinking’ for a time.
You cannot show the others how you feel inside, we still have to sing to them, play with them and have fun with them, or what is the point for them… Just as we did for Freya and Solo when they lost pals.
And so that is what we did, and will continue to do…for all of them.
We have been struggling with various issues as happens from time to time, we had the boiler break down and needed a new one to which Greyhound Compassion came to the rescue to help fund it, which we and the dogs thank them so very much. We are also needing the roof inside sorting, with boarding out which will provide extra warmth for the dogs as a lot of heat is lost though there.
We are in desperate need all year round of good old fashion (big bed) blankets for the kennel dogs. We also need to do a bit of cosmetic work inside the kennels to freshen it up and there are a lot of works to be carried out in the grounds which Karen and myself used to do ourselves but due to Karen’s illness, she can no longer carry out herself.
All this unfortunately comes at a cost which we are not used to having been more self-sufficient and this has had a knock on effect on Karen as she feels saddened by this even though she has done it herself for the last 38 years or so.
Karen managed to come out fundraising on Sunday 11 March for a couple of hours. Now Karen is by no means doing nothing, believe me when I say she is an amazing lady who even with this illness and with fractures down her spine and a break in the base of her spine she still refused to stay in hospital and came home and got herself to the animals to do what she could and she still does. She never stops even on crutches constantly now and have to say she still puts me to shame and tells me to ‘jog on’ we have work to do!!
Karen is struggling with walking now and this is how it is but in her words ‘it is what it is and I will continue to do what I can for as long as I can’…and as I know Karen, while ever she has a breath in her body, she will…and will never let any animal down.
Karen continues on crutches to care for the animals and as always they adore her interaction with them! She does tell me however she can no longer pick up poo!!! That’s ok though as I have a certificate in poo shovelling!
We have decided to have a singalong in the afternoon with the dogs as Brindy in particular enjoys this and Linda. These two really get the others joining in! Edgar has a dance and we all have a good howl, including Karen and me! I am not actually sure if the dogs aren’t trying to drown out my beautiful singing voice but I think they enjoy it!
We have had a good year with re-homing and are looking forward to another and hopefully our online website shop is moving in the right direction now with sales on the handmade martingale collars and hand painted pyrography leather collars Karen is making. She is also doing a range of harnesses and fleece coats (nightwear) too! So all good.
We also have many greyhounds for sponsorship which can be found on our online shop. We appreciate all your continued support.
Linda and Lucinda were here with us when we lost Solo. We would like to say a thank you both for your support and to Lucinda for all the help with Solo and the kennel dogs on that sad day.
We have had some losses yes and we have had some new ones in. Welcome Jack, the new sponsor dog. Ben, Linda, Billy all ready for adoption and Olga who has just been reserved. The kennels are full to busting as always and always another waiting.
Edgar our blind greyhound who was from the Romanian circus is making fantastic progress with trust and plays now. He loves toys and treats and dancing while we mop! He also loves my singing which is quite something! He always gives us the ‘once over’ by sniffing our hair and face to check it is us before he ‘let’s himself go’ but he is still very nervous of new people coming in and out of the kennels which is understandable with what he has been through.
Whether he will ever be able to overcome this is something we will continue to work on with him. After being hanged and surviving that and then the trauma of being rescued in Romania and transported for five days by van to the UK to us, it is no wonder he is taking some time. He deserves so much credit for ever learning to trust a human again and we consider ourselves to be very lucky and honoured he does.
Jack, the new ‘sponsor boy’ is also doing well. He still has a way to go but he has put weight on and is looking a lot better. He still has a few issues with nerves but again Karen is working with him and he is a lot more settled. He is a very big lad and very loving and needy. Very handsome.
Brindy is getting older but still as noisy as ever when it is treat time of any kind of food time! He is such a ‘different’ kind of greyhound to the normal! But still, he tells us he is just misunderstood!
Lobo & Blanca are still thinking they are puppies even at nine! They are still very beautiful loving greyhounds although have been a bit of a handful over the years!
Opal is now 21 years old and we have just put her daughter Gem in with her after the loss of her other daughter and kennel-mate Solo. It was a very sad time for Opal but Gem has cheered her up and they often cuddle up in bed together.
Roger, our lurcher is also doing well. Cheeky boy, very cheeky boy! He loves to play and loves all the other dogs. Such a friendly boy. He now trusts and loves human contact too but is still very scared of big open spaces and checks where we are.
Pandora and Apollo are still like an old married couple and cannot be apart from each other! They have been in love from the start, although Pandora can sometimes be the ‘grumpy lady’ and puts Apollo in his place! He certainly knows his place!
Drac and Helsin, the saluki cross greyhound. Ex circus dancing dogs like Edgar from Romania. These two are so very loving and rely heavily on each other. They are like big babies but take some handling. They are like rockets and anxious when people visit for fear they are being taken away. Again, they have simply been through too much trauma.
Ilona is doing well. She came to us at three months and is now 21 months old! Finally growing up!!! Max is getting older, he’s now eight and says he is feeling it. He has not been the same since he lost his companion and our own girl Beau last March. We often do not realise just how close they really do get.
Willow is still a little monkey although a lot better than she was. She is a lovely black greyhound who will be with us for life and is now a new companion for Max.
Patch is 15 and lives along with West and Ilona. She thinks Ilona is her pup and we cannot tell Ilona off when she is naughty as Patch will tell us off!!! Patch has never taken to any other dog as much as Ilona! Ilona also adores Patch!
West is now about 14/15 and we have been worried about him as he is not in the best of health now although he is not in pain. He has been a very difficult lurcher in many ways and came to us from a family break-up. He has trust issues and does not like many people although gets on with the other dogs and adores all cats! He is very sensitive.
As you can see there are many reasons why some stay with us for life. Some due to illness and many due to trauma they have suffered.
We would like to again thank all of those past and present that have sponsored any of our dogs and especially those who sponsored our beautiful Freya, who has taken a piece of our hearts.
Ruth and Lesley are two of our trustees. They have 2 of our dogs, Harry and Jade. We had a stand at Heckington Show at the end of July 2016 with myself, Ruth, Lesley and Christine and of course Snowie, Bonnie and Max. We had a lot of fun over the couple of days we did it. Putting up a gazebo was stressful, where Ruth and Lesley were laid underneath it flat on the floor with the roof on their heads at one point. I don’t think we were understanding the instructions very well!
Ruth, Lesley and Christine were all amazing as were all the dogs.The show came to a close and we all got back to our own ways of life! A week went by and Ruth called and we were chatting about the show and I asked “Are you ok? You sound a bit rough?” She replied with she had had a bit of an accident on her pushbike. She lives in Salford and she had got the front tyre stuck in the tram line and come off and bumped her head… we told her she should maybe get it checked out and she said she would if it didn’t get any better and we thought no more of it.
Ruth had a CT and MRI scan and what was revealed was devastating to all of us and this is one time we are glad she came off her pushbike as this was nothing to do with the accident. Ruth had cancer – A brain tumour. Read Ruth’s story in her own words.
We would like to thank Greyhound Compassion, Linda, Lucinda, Magic, Petal and Tess and all the fundraisers/supporters for their amazing, continued support over the last year. As you know and have seen, we couldn’t do it without you!
With love from
Dawn of Greyhound Rescue
Here, our friend Ruth talks candidly about her cancer diagnosis, and her beloved greyhound Harry.
In October 2014, after suddenly losing our old greyhounds, Harry and Jade came into our lives – two very bouncy, happy loving youngsters and boy, did we feel the difference!
Fast forward two years, to August 2016, and I had a minor accident where I fell off my pushbike. I got low grade concussion and was soon after diagnosed with a high grade brain tumour. Surgery and radiotherapy followed.
The dogs kept me going, they and my wife were amazing. As soon as I could walk, I was back out every day with them getting some fresh air. They made me recover quicker and I owe my fitness and health to them.
At the end of February 2017, whilst on a trip to Bristol, the dogs stayed with my parents. Upon our return, Harry had a small lump on his bum. Mum and dad had spotted it and taken him to the vets whilst we were away as they were worried. We kept an eye on this for around six weeks or so, taking him back and forth to our vets, trying various tablets, until in April the vet told us that my gorgeous blue boy had cancer too.
This was heart-wrenching. I love my pup so much and the thought that I might lose him was shocking. The vet diagnosed him with a mast cell tumour which reacted to histamine, hence why it had been so reactive to all the medications that he had been given. When initially found, it had been around a 2cm lump, increasing to a 15-20 cm lump before it was removed.
On the 21 of April Harry went in for surgery. We had been told that it would be a lengthy procedure and after six hours of not hearing anything, I phoned the vets. I was told that the vet was just finishing with the surgery and that it had been much more complex than expected. I went over to see him that evening and the poor boy didn’t know me. I asked if they would keep him in overnight as I knew that we couldn’t care for him at that time. He wasn’t able to stand, he was so weak, it was so painful to see.
The following day, we went over to Sheffield to collect a dog on behalf of Greyhound Rescue, then took him to his new home. It was heart warming seeing a new partnership of dog and ‘new mummy’ and made us both realise how much Harry means to us. That afternoon we both went to see Harry at the vets and found him extremely lethargic and not in a good way. The vet said that he had lost a lot of blood during surgery and they hadn’t known if he would pull through the first night or not. On 23 April, we brought him home with the instruction to keep him quiet and return him for a follow up check in two days’ time.
We took him back and he was starting to heal well. The vet was pleased, cleaned and changed his dressing and asked us to come back in a couple of days for his next check-up. We were changing his dressing daily ourselves and the day after the visit, when we checked his wound, a large part of the skin graft had died. We rushed him over to the emergency vets and the dead skin was cut off, the wound was cleaned but it had left a gap of around 20cm by 10cm of open skin. The vet who cleaned the wound wasn’t hopeful that it would heal and it left us feeling very deflated.
The following week, Harry was back at the vets having emergency surgery, our amazing vet had a pioneering new surgery which would stretch some of the healthy skin over the wound to reduce the size of it, allowing a smaller open wound to have the best possible chance of healing.
He recovered from this surgery much quicker although he still required the wound dressing daily and twice weekly visits to our vets in Leeds (from Manchester where we live). These continued for the following six months to allow for regular dressing changes and cleaning, as well as laser treatment to assist with speeding up the healing of the wound.
By the start of June, his wound had healed enough that we were able to start him on chemo. Following the histology results, it was revealed that he had a grade 3 tumour, however the lab were unsure whether full clearance had been taken or not, therefore the vet wanted to start him on Palladia. Knowing how I was feeling taking chemotherapy, I worried how Harry would be. I was having chemo every six weeks and it was taking it out of me for between 5-10 days each time. My poor pup was going to be on it every other day. The vet explained that dog chemo is very different to human chemo and that he would be unlikely to have any side effects.
I couldn’t believe that both of us had had cancer, and were now on chemo together. Everyone was joking that he was doing it out of sympathy for me, but I do believe that we are so close that, somehow, his tumour came out whilst he knew I was in treatment for mine.
We are both now in remission. Harry has had blood tests and is fully clear after six months of chemo, I had eight months in total and we are both well. We both have our scars but they don’t stop us getting on with our lives. He is still my beautiful blue pup, just with a slightly patchwork bottom!!
We attend the All-party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group, (#APDAWG; Twitter handle: @APDAWG1) which features PupAid’s campaign to ban the sale of puppies via third party sellers. We were thrilled when the Government e-petition calling for Lucy’s Law’s ban on puppies in pet shops and all commercial third party sellers breached 120,000 signatures. This means it will be debated in Parliament. Named after a Cavalier Spaniel rescued from a Welsh puppy farm, #Lucyslaw has the support of more than 90 MPs. The sale of puppies by pet shops and other so-called third party dealers is a trade that relies on animals supplied by horrendous puppy farms. If enacted #LucysLaw will bring about an immediate end to cruel puppy farming enabled by third party sales of pups. The campaign is led by TV vet Marc Abraham, winner of the Mirror’s 2015 Animal Hero Awards, backed by The Daily Mirror, and launched in Parliament by Scottish Nationalist MP Dr Lisa Cameron, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group.
Please lobby your MP to back #LucysLaw and to push for reform through the debate in Parliament. Please keep signing: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/213451
Greyhounds and Galgos in repose (doing what they do best) but actively supporting #LucysLaw.
We support Limerick Animal Welfare and the team’s greyhound rescue work. They are generally inundated with greyhounds, surplus to requirements and home many in the US and Italy. Pet Levrieri places the greyhounds in super family homes in which they are treated like kings. Pet Levrieri transports them to Italy from Ireland. Limerick Animal Welfare prepares the dogs and their passports in readiness. Greyhound Compassion’s funds goes towards food, vets’ bills and preparing the paperwork for these lucky greyhounds to go to their forever homes in Italy.
Valerie was found straying in Limerick in November last year. She has an ear tattoo and having researched it, we know she was born on 22 November 2014 but has never been named and there is no record of where she has been since she was born.
Now called Valerie, she was found in a filthy state and covered in fleas. Limerick Animal Welfare took her in and has rehabilitated her with veterinary skill and loving care. She will be homed as soon as the right home is found for her.
Do you remember poor Zeuss from our October Ezine? The poor greyhound who suffered third degree burns when the kennel owner tried to kill snails in Zeuss’ kennel? Zeuss was the collateral damage. Thanks to Limerick Animal Welfare’s vet and your donations, Zeuss made a good recovery and is living in the lap of luxury in Italy. He is so comfortable and that glint in his eyes reveals who is in charge now…
We have continued to support Dungarvan Rescue, the one-woman band, working hard to rehabilitate rescued greyhounds, lurchers (and German Shepherds) and actively speaking out about the greyhound wastage in the racing industry in Ireland.
Last year Mary at Dungarvan Rescue rescued 10 greyhounds, saved along with 130 others from squalor and neglect at a greyhound racing kennel. We were able to provide a financial contribution to their restore their well-being. Generally they had been well fed but covered in parasites and needed intensive rehabilitation. Mary took 10 to her shelter and other rescue organisations accommodated the other 130. All of the Dungarvan 10 are now in homes in the United Kingdom, thanks to Mary’s UK contacts. In Mary’s words “this was a situation gone bad” and the Irish Greyhound Board (the racing regulatory body in Ireland) had allegedly known about the problem for 2 years leading up to the rescue. We are pleased the dogs are safe and sound thanks to Mary and fellow rescuers. As soon as we have photos of them in the comfort of their homes, we’ll post them.
By MARGIE EASTER, USA Scooby volunteer
In 2000, I adopted my first greyhound, Daisy, from Greyhound Friends for Life (San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA). We adored her and spent 10 wonderful years together before having to let her go to osteosarcoma.
During this time, I subscribed to, ‘Celebrating Greyhounds’ magazine and read an article about Spanish galgos. I was horrified to learn how they were exploited and abused, and vowed to adopt a galgo someday.
Time went on and after losing Daisy and two of our older mixed-breed dogs, we adopted our second greyhound and another dog in 2010.
Our house seemed lonely with only two dogs, so I started to pursue contacts in my Facebook network to find out about galgo adoption groups. That’s how I found Scooby Medina del Campo, a galgo rescue sanctuary in the heart of the hunting region of Spain. I spoke with an adoption coordinator in the USA, learned about the process, applied for adoption, selected a lovely galga, named Bless, and impatiently awaited news regarding approval for adoption.
Once approved, the adoption coordinator offered an idea: “As long as you plan to adopt Bless, why don’t you go to Scooby to volunteer to see where she comes from?’’
I thought it outlandish at first, but at the same time, the idea of volunteering and bringing her back was very exciting. Everything came together and I went to Scooby for the first time in April 2011.
During my Scooby adventure, I had a wonderful time, met other dedicated volunteers from other countries, as well as the hard-working staff. I fell in love with the animals, which include galgos, mixed breed dogs, cats, horses, cows, donkeys, sheep, goats, as well as other types of animals — all rescued.
After that first visit, I was hooked on Scooby and the entire rewarding experience. Since then, I’ve returned 14 times, helped to establish a partnership between Scooby and my local greyhound adoption group, Greyhound Friends for Life, and have brought over 25 Scooby dogs for adoption in the USA. I now have three galgos of my own, two of them, Bless and Bones, from Scooby. I love them to pieces!
Greyhound? Galgo? What’s the difference?
Those who love greyhounds and have adopted one may become intrigued by the differences between greyhounds and the Spanish galgo. If you’re wondering, here’s some information:
Greyhounds are bred and trained primarily for racing. Galgos are bred and trained primarily for hunting. Like greyhounds, breeding and training conditions vary, but in general, galgos come from extremely difficult beginnings where they often experience cruelty, abuse, neglect and, ultimately, a very sad ending to their lives.
Greyhounds and galgos look very similar, but there are differences in size and appearance. Galgos may be a bit smaller in stature, have floppier ears, longer tails, shallower chests and bigger paws. They come in all shapes, sizes and wonderful colors, with brindles and markings that make them especially unique.
In general, both breeds have these things in common:
You can Google, “difference between greyhounds and galgos” to find lots of informative articles about galgos as pets.
Scooby Needs Our Help
In support of the ongoing efforts of Scooby, I remain a proud volunteer, transport companion and donor. The shelter always needs assistance to continue and grow its important mission to protect unwanted, abused and neglected animals.
I hope that you will consider helping in any way that you can. Please visit Scooby’s website for more information. I like to remember this saying, which supports the good work that we are doing for Scooby:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
Greyhound Compassion condemns the 2017 statistics published by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain on 14 March 2018 on its own website. The statistics fail to disclose the total number of greyhounds racing on the UK tracks making the total data context difficult to analyse. The statistics reveal there were 257 “track fatalities” in 2017. This equates to 5 greyhounds per week dying on British racetracks – one too many per day in a working week. The GBGB euthanasia figures show 1,013 greyhounds having been put to sleep or suffering “sudden” or “natural” death. Of these, at least 67% of the deaths lack detailed explanation or were because “no home found” or treatment costs were deemed too expensive. The bookmakers’ net profit in 2014 (latest data GC has identified) was £237m from greyhound racing. Hard to believe a multi-million pound industry found treatment costs too expensive for its staple commodity.
At the same time as publishing the 2017 statistics, the GBGB launched “The Greyhound Commitment”, setting out a series of promises and initiatives, including an intention that every greyhound that can be homed when it retires is successfully homed. This is quite a revelation because over the years racing enthusiasts have been adamant that there has not been a problem and if the owners and trainers have not taken the dogs into their own homes, charity home finders have been homing the surplus greyhounds. Now “The Greyhound Commitment” contradicts this. In addition, the funding behind “The Greyhound Commitment” does not yet appear to be firmly in place.
In response to the published statistics, the EFRA Committee called for a statutory levy to be placed on bookmakers (including online bookmakers) profiting from greyhound racing in the UK in a letter from the Committee’s Chair, Neil Parish MP, to Tracey Crouch MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport and Civil Society, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The EFRA Committee welcomed the publication of the figures and the greater transparency they provide, but also called for further efforts to reduce the number of dogs euthanised due to financial considerations. Neil Parish MP, Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said:
“Greyhound racing should be subject to the same high standards that we expect of any sport involving animals. If greyhound racing is to thrive in the UK, it must prioritise animal welfare over financial gain. Bookmakers make huge profits on greyhound racing and they have a responsibility to support greyhound welfare whether they trade from the High Street or trade online. We remain resolute in our belief that a statutory levy on bookmakers is essential to protect the welfare of racing dogs in the UK.”
“We welcome the figures published today by GBGB, showing a commitment to greater transparency about the destination of retired racers. However, we are concerned that 355 dogs were put to sleep last year because no suitable home could be found or because of the high cost of medical treatment. The welfare of racing dogs should be paramount and every effort should be made to reduce the number of dogs being put to sleep for economic reasons.”
Also noteworthy is that the statistics and “The Greyhound Commitment” exclude the greyhounds racing on the independent (“flapping”) tracks. The existence of parallel systems (GBGB licensed in addition to the flapping tracks) was of concern to the EFRA Committee in its 2015 review.
The League Against Cruel Sports provided valuable commentary on the GBGB’s 2017 statistics and, rightly so, repeated its call for a ban on greyhound racing : “….It is time greyhound racing was consigned to the ranks of cruel sports which are no longer acceptable…..injuries are not an unavoidable risk – they are an inevitable consequence of an industry based on dogs’ suffering.”
And all of this for the first time since greyhound racing started in the UK in…..1926.
You might recall from our 2016 and 2017 newsletters that Greyhound Compassion has been closely monitoring developments around the review of the Welfare of Racing Greyhound Regulations (2010) during which the EFRA Select Committee and DEFRA committed to holding the greyhound racing industry’s feet to the fire.
One of the key EFRA recommendations in its report of 2016 from its review in 2015 was that welfare data relating to injury, euthanasia and rehoming numbers be recorded and published. The EFRA Select Committee found that the lack of publicly available data made it difficult to judge the level of welfare provision. The Welfare of Racing Greyhound Regulations (2010) required greyhound tracks to record the injury, euthanasia data and stats about greyhounds leaving the industry as part of the local authority licensing regime and the UKAS regime run by the GBGB but the data were never actually collated centrally by the GBGB. In 2016 DEFRA secured the GBGB’s commitment to publish the statistics with a full set of data to be ready by the end of 2017.
Parliamentary questions posed by Jim Fitzpatrick MP in December 2017 reveal that the Government (DEFRA) expects the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) to begin publishing annual aggregate injury and euthanasia statistics for GBGB tracks and annual summary statistics for the number of registered greyhounds leaving the industry. The figures will cover the preceding calendar year and, for greyhounds leaving the industry, the data will include by what method. GBGB is expected to begin publishing both sets of data by the end of March 2018. Access to anonymised track injury and euthanasia data will be considered by the GBGB’s Welfare Standing Committee and DEFRA for bona fide research purposes. We are not clear about what “bona fide research purposes” means and are trying to find out. Nor do we know how DEFRA intends to handle data related to the independent tracks. Likewise, we are enquiring about the plan for these tracks outside of GBGB control.
DEFRA has been clear that if necessary it will regulate the industry because it is important, in George Eustice’s (DEFRA) own words: “to keep the GBGB’s feet to the fire and to make it understand the stakes”.
Chinese New Year takes place on a different date each year because it is based on the lunar calendar. 2018 is the Year of the Dog and it will be celebrated on 16 Feb, giving the GBGB about 6 weeks to finalise its data sets. We are waiting.