Greyhound Compassion was established in 2001 by a small group of rescued greyhound owners who were horrified by the plight of the racing greyhounds, the majority of whom are bred in Ireland and exported to the UK.
We came to realise that tens of thousands of these gentle dogs – the canine commodity of the gambling industry serving the nation’s greyhound racetracks – were going missing, changing hands in car parks without any trace by the industry’s regulatory body, or filling up spaces in places like Battersea Dogs’ Home, the RSPCA and the DogsTrust.
We learned about the excessive number of treatable injuries which went untreated or resulted in greyhounds being put to sleep because he or she was of no further commercial value to the racing industry. We could not stand by and see this happen.
We also came to know those rescuing the galgos in Medina del Campo, Spain. Similar to the greyhounds, perhaps even lazier (hard to believe!) the abused and neglected galgos are used for hare coursing and their breeders/owners (the galgueros) discard their galgos at the end of the annual hunting season in January/February.
Traditionally, the galgos were hanged in the pine forests in the environs of Medina del Campo. We heard about the Scooby shelter which was saving hundreds of galgos from a fate worse than death.
At the time, the shelter was just a building with no running water or electricity. It was a safe haven for the galgos. The very small team had ambitions to build a state of the art shelter to rescue and rehabilitate the galgos. We wanted to be part of building a better life for the galgos.
Greyhound Compassion has three Directors/Trustees and is supported by a faithful group of volunteers who are very practical and committed to improving the welfare of the greyhounds and galgos.
We have been blessed with the support of two patrons – Malcolm Hebden (Coronation Street’s Norris Cole) and Philip Serrell, auctioneer and antiques expert, of the BBC’s Bargain Hunt, Flog It!, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is and Antiques Road Trip.
Malcolm and Philip are keen supporters of Greyhound Compassion having contributed to our fundraising efforts. Philip very kindly hosted ‘An evening with Philip Serrell’ in aid of Greyhound Compassion and Malcolm has admirably judged our fun dog shows, making some tough choices!
We set about planning an annual events calendar to generate funds for some of the independent shelters we knew were rescuing the greyhounds in the UK and Ireland. Our fundraising efforts were also going to help build the new Scooby shelter for the galgos.
Today, we are still a small but growing group of greyhound advocates who raise funds through jumble sales, car boots, table top sales, tombolas, fun dog shows, walks, garden parties and flag days.
Our group welcomes anyone who shares our concern and can turn their hand to shaking a tin, baking a cake, selling jumble or holding a coffee morning.Join us!
We try to punch way above our weight and keep our overheads to a minimum so that every Pound and Euro we spend stretches to the heart of the greyhound and galgo problem. Gradually, we have invested in the Scooby shelter so that it now offers proper facilities with an on-site clinic for the galgos in its care.
Likewise, we have contributed to veterinary and subsistence costs for the greyhounds at Greyhound Rescue, Lincolnshire, as well as those at Limerick Animal Welfare and Dungarvan Rescue in Ireland.
Not content with just fundraising, we lobby in a measured way for change. Having seen first-hand the treatment of the galgos from cradle to grave, and having witnessed galgo corpses hanging in the pine forests around Medina del Campo, we worked with Scooby to push the police to enforce the law and shamed the galgueros into bringing their galgos to the Scooby shelter rather than killing them.
Thankfully, a hanging is now rare and Scooby saves about 1000 galgos annually. Many of them are rescued in a poor, neglected state but at least they are alive and can be rehabilitated.
As for the greyhounds, the Seaham killings of 2006 shocked the nation when the Sunday Times revealed that a builders’ merchant had killed 10,000 greyhounds over 15 years using a bolt gun and burying them on a one acre plot at the back of his home in Seaham.
Greyhound Compassion were among a group of welfare organisations pushing for greater transparency and the independent regulation of the greyhound racing industry. That was not to be and The Welfare of Racing Greyhound Regulations 2010 permitted self-regulation of the racing industry and did little to improve greyhound welfare.
The Regulations are due for review in 2015 and we are calling again for full transparency an independent regulation of the racing industry.
We have secured membership of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare and are following the issue closely through our membership. Keep an eye on our news and resources page and on Facebook for all the latest news.