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   Inside Out - West: Monday 24th February, 2003

RETIRED GREYHOUNDS

Greyhound at a racing track
GONE TO THE DOGS | What fate awaits retired greyhounds?

Greyhound racing is fun, exciting and a great night out and has been going for 74 years. However, what the people who go don’t think about is what happens to the dogs after their racing life is over.

10,000 greyhounds retire each year due to injury, old age or they simply just don’t make the grade, and nobody knows where many of them go.

There are many responsible owners who take their dogs home, and trainers who give up precious kennels spaces for retired dogs, but the fact is that records are not always kept to show if this the case.

Campaigning

Annette Crosbie
Annette Crosbie is a dedicated campaigner for greyhounds

Actress Annette Crosbie, who’s got four greyhounds of her own, is one campaigner who wants things to change.

In theory, The National Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC) and the British Greyhound Racing Board (BGRB) keep records of what happens to the dogs.

Sadly, the reality is that many dogs are passed on from one owner or trainer to another and the industry loses track of where many of them end up.

The BGRB and the NGRC have made a huge effort to deal with this problem.

They set up a charity, the Retired Greyhound Trust (RGT) which does sterling work re-homing greyhounds. But even they admit that the funding is just not enough to home every retired greyhound.

The RGT finds homes for about 2,000 dogs a year. Campaigners want to know what happens to the other 8000?

New Deal

Greyhound
The bookmakers make around one and a half billion pounds a year on greyhound racing

The industry is currently battling with the bookmakers in an attempt to get more money for the information they provide about the dogs, known as form.

Currently the bookmakers take around one and a half million pounds from greyhound racing and give 0.4% of their turnover back and only on a voluntary basis.

40% of bookmakers choose to give nothing.

The New Deal will bring bookmakers' contributions in line with that from the horse racing levy board and will ensure that more money comes back into the sport.

Geoffrey Thomas, Chief Executive of the BGRB insists that if the deal goes through this extra money will be made available to the RGT and the welfare of greyhounds will improve.

However, the promise of New Deal money has been met with scepticism by campaigners who doubt that things will change that much.

With owners, trainers and promoters all wanting a bit of the pie, is the issue of welfare really given more than just lip service?

Loving pets

Greyhound wearing a coat
The dogs are well treated when they are racing, but is the same level of care guaranteed in their retirement?

Annette Crosbie of ‘One Foot in the Grave’ fame would say ‘No!’.

She is a dedicated campaigner on behalf of greyhounds, running greyhound welfare charity Greyhounds UK as well as newly appointed President of the League Against Cruel Sports.

Her point is that the industry is self-regulating, and until the control is taken out of the hands of the track promoters and bookmakers, the dogs will suffer.

It makes her even angrier that the dogs involved are the easiest, gentlest and forgiving animals. No matter how badly they have been treated, they will always become loving and trusting pets.

Of course, not everyone involved in the industry is insensitive to these dogs’ plight.

Jim, a dog trainer
Jim believes that the welfare of retired dogs is the responsibility of all who work in the industry

Jim, a trainer at Swindon has had up to fifteen retired dogs in his kennels taking up spaces which could be housing active racing dogs.

He sees it as part of his duty to the greyhounds to ensure they will have a good life when their racing days are over.

Even though the law and the licensing body insist that the responsibility of the dog is firmly in the hands of the owner, Jim sees it differently.

He believes that everybody who makes a penny out of greyhounds has a moral responsibility to ensure that the dogs are well cared for and spend their retirement in comfort.

Contacts

If you would like to give a home to one of these dogs, here are some useful contacts:
Retired Greyhound Trust 0870 444 0673
Greyhound Rescue West of England 07000 785 092
Greyhound Compassion (N. Devon) 01884 254 727

See also ...

On the rest of the web
The Retired Greyhound Trust
Greyhound Rescue of West England
Greyhound Rescue Groups

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

sue stoddart
I am a greyhound lover, and i own two greyhounds, i have also worked in a greyhound racing kennels for eight months, and some of the treatment of the dogs was heartbreaking, i did my best for the dogs under my care,and although they were not ill treated as such, they were not treated as dogs either,to the kennel owners they were just a money making racing machine, and if they could'nt do the job then they were out.

The care of the dogs was bad and with over two hundred dogs and puppys i felt it was to much for me the little i tryed to do was not enought,and when one of my favorites was killed on a dog walking machine i left, now i want to dedicate my life to greyhounds in anyway i can.

Melanie Stilgoe
I am not a dog owner, yet. But when I am able to have a dog, I will definatly have a greyhound, or several! From what I have seen, they mke excellent pets, and deserve the best. The people responsable for their welfare during their racing lives, should definatly be accountable for their retirement. The plight is a sad one, but hopefully there will be a happy ending.

Alison
I have one rescued greyhound and one retired ex-racer. They make the most wonderful, gentle and amusing pets. Everybody should adopt one!

Dawn Beattie
I too agree that any persons that make money from the greyhound industry should be made accountable for what happens when they abondon these beautiful natured animals.

I have had my dog 1 year now and I am a greyhound fan forever. He came from a rescue home, he was a nightmare to begin as he could get into the fridge & freezer, he ate everything.

He jumped our fence and the neighbours and went on a sightseeing tour of highgate. We picked him up later at kentish twn police stn.

This dog grew on us from the first few weeks, even though he was a nightmare to begin with, he was also this lovely playful, loving, lazy, sweet beautiful dog. I wouldnt change him for the world.

These dogs need a chance and this is what made me perservere with him, and patience has won over.

These animals do not deserve the treatment they are given, they allow the industry to use them for monetry gain, why should they not be entitled to be given a better life in retirement at the expense of, in my opinion, these greedy money grabbers.

Jack Templar
The Inside Out programme showed a trainers idea of a "happy retirement" for ex-racing greyhounds - a bare kennel, muzzles and a bed of shredded paper! Some retirement!

Anyone who has shared their home with a greyhound knows that they love to play, lounge on a soft bed and be part of the family, like any pet dog!

Ronnie Shiell says the official figures don't include those dogs kept by owners or trainers - what standard of life are these dogs getting?

With no independent inspectors, why should we trust what the owners/ trainers say? Surely they are looking after their own interests, i suspect those of the dogs come second.

margaret jefferies
we belong to greyhound welfare south wales it is very important that we do as much as we can to save this wonderful dogs our website is www.greyhound-welfare.org.uk please feel free to view. we have many dogs looking for new homes.

Jan Lake, Trustee, Greyhound Rescue West of England.
Well done "Inside Out"! What a brilliant portrayal of the life of the Greyhound and the fate endured by so many.

Thankyou for highlighting the problems which can occur when the Greyhound has outlived his usefulness and is no longer required, and thankyou also for taking the time to find an owner/trainer who DOES care about what happens to his dogs when their racing days are finished.

This was an excellent programme and showed a well balanced and truthful overview.

I know how much hard work your team put into doing the research for this programme, and it certainly didn't go to waste.....

We are all very grateful to you for providing the opportunity to show just what a wonderful pet this much maligned breed of dog can make.

Michael Goldup
I have recently rehomed a greyhound (not an ex racer), and had never realised what a loving and placid dog they are.

I feel that the NGRC & BGRB had better get ther acts together and answer the question 'what does happen to the dogs they loose track of' Sadly I think I know the answer.

Anne Templar
Well done BBC Inside Out for exposing the cruelty inherent in greyhound racing.

I've adopted several ex-racing dogs, who were terribly nervous and scarred by their racing "career".

Their owners were happy to have the dogs euthanised, despite the fact that they were ownly a few years old.

It is outrageous that animal welfare volunteers are left to pick up the pieces of this billion dollar so called "sport."

Maurice Humphries
I am the owner of three retired greyhounds and I agree completly with Annette Crosbie more funds from the betting industry should be made available for the welfare of retired greyhounds,

one idea would be a charge made to the purchaser to go into a central fund for their future after racing and proper rehoming kennels built.

also there should be a total ban on the export of greyhounds to Spain Italy and the Far East where there is very little or no consideration when the greyhound can no longer race.

The conditions that these hounds have to race under are utterly deplorable and if were not for Greyhounds In Need and the army of volunteers especially in Spain there final outcome does not bear thinking of.

ronnie shiell
the 2000 greyhounds re-homed each year are the ones that find homes outside of dog racing,no one mentions how many of the 8000 are taken home by their owners or kept with the trainer to enjoy their retirement.

Saying there are 10000 dogs each year that retire of which only 2000 are re-homed is not correct.

I have my last 4 greyhounds that have retired at home with me and these are not included in that 2000 figure as they have not been re-homed by the greyhound trust.

Steve Wasteney
I am four years into the ownership of my second retired racing Greyhound.

All the reports of the suitability of these dogs as pets is understated and there are still many people who know very little about them.

Both of my Greyhounds have lived happily in the company of small dogs and cats that are supposed to be at risk in their presence.

I have never been involved in the sport but I do believe that the sport should be held more accountable for the welfare of these beautiful animals.



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