Greyhound racing: What’s the truth?

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There is an ongoing petition to end greyhound racing in the city by closing down Coral Brighton and Hove Greyhound Stadium. So far, there are over 6,200 signatures and the campaign’s next goal is to reach 7,500.

There were calls to end this sport in 2018 when almost 1000 greyhounds were killed for various racing related reasons. The Greyhound Board of Great Britain admitted these deaths were “avoidable” and “unnecessary”, and pledged to put an end to them.

Brighton Journal spoke with Sarah Whitehead, a campaigner behind the Close Brighton and Hove Greyhound Racing Stadium petition, Brighton & Hove City Council, and the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) to learn more about the world of greyhound racing. Coral Brighton and Hove Racing Stadium has not responded to our multiple requests for comment.

Sarah explained the reasons behind the campaign:

“The campaign was started because we wanted people to be made aware of the cruelty involved in the greyhound racing industry. These dogs are bred and exploited purely to make money for the gambling companies like Coral.

She explained her understanding of the conditions and quality of life of the greyhounds involved in racing:

“Many puppies are killed because they don’t make the grade, kennel life is isolating and lonely, racing takes place in 34 degrees or minus 6 degrees, during thunderstorms and firework displays and once a dog is no longer profitable, the future is often abandonment, exported to China, imprisonment on small filthy allotments or killed.”

She added:

“Very few end up in loving homes. It’s not a sport or fun for the dogs, it is violence and abuse.”

However this has been disputed by a spokesperson for the Greyhound Board of Great Britain:

“The health, well-being and happiness of racing greyhounds is paramount in our sport; indeed, the protection that registered racing greyhounds receive far outstrips that of many pet dogs. As the regulator of the sport, we have a zero-tolerance policy on the mistreatment of greyhounds and we closely monitor the welfare of every greyhound from registration to retirement and beyond.

Speaking specifically of Brighton and Hove’s track, they added:

“As with all our licensed tracks, every greyhound that races at Brighton and Hove Stadium is checked by a vet both before and after racing, as well as away from the track at their residential kennels. Likewise, the stadium works closely with its trainers and affiliated re-homing centres to ensure that their greyhounds have loving homes in their retirement”

The petition is aimed at Brighton & Hove City Council, however the campaigners may need to start looking in a different direction for answers according to a council spokesperson:

“We note the concerns people are raising in this petition, and given the number of signatures it will be considered at Full Council in due course if the petitioners request this. However issues relating to animal welfare at the greyhound track are governed by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, not the council.

They added:

“The council would therefore have no powers to close the stadium on animal welfare grounds. The Greyhound Board of Great Britain produces, and can enforce, welfare standards, and the petitioners may wish to approach the Board with any concerns they have.”

 The claims against the sport don’t end there, as Sarah also shared:

“We have absolute proof that a dog raced at Hove called Trionas Legend was exported to China to be used for stud. Sadly, due to his age, he is unlikely to still be alive. Trainers at Hove confirmed this.

“The conditions in China are horrific and the dogs usually end up in a meat slaughterhouse. There is a charity (Candy Cane) that goes out there to try and rescue the dogs exported from here and bring them home.”

She added:

“We contact Coral every time there are extreme temperatures or fireworks displays and ask that they do not hold the races but they refuse to comply.

“They have no interest in the dogs except as money making machines. Two years ago a dog called Bonamassa Blues had a heart attack and died at the track. Every week there are injuries and falls. None of this is acceptable.”

We have not been able to get a confirmation or denial of this information from Coral Brighton and Hove Greyhound Stadium as they have not responded to our multiple requests for comment.

Sarah also claimed that the number of attendees is dropping and many are unaware the track even exists:

“Interestingly, whenever we do stalls in Brighton and Hove, many people are completely unaware there is a dog track here and are horrified such an outdated business is still going. This is meant to be an ethical city.”

However, the spokesperson for GBGB has disputed this claim as well:

“Brighton and Hove is a thriving stadium and racing there is enjoyed by thousands of people each year who pay little attention to the handful of animal rights activists who protest outside the track. The petition against the stadium contains a number of inaccuracies designed to provoke a reaction and yet, despite being open for over a year, it has not managed to secure a substantial number of signatures.”

Sarah is looking to spread awareness of the track and the campaign to close it:

“We want the people of Brighton to know this track exists, that the greyhound racing industry is cruel and violent and that we need it banned from the city.”

She also made some claims about Coral specifically, which we have presented to them and in return we have received no response, confirmation, or denial:

“The greyhound stadium is a place of gambling, cheap alcohol and animal abuse yet Coral actively encourage children to go there with cheap meal offers and free ice cream in the summer. Children are not allowed in betting shops yet allowed into this racing stadium and we have seen children being shown how to bet.”

Looking to the future, the campaigners and the GBGB have differing views once again.

Sarah said:

“The main thing the people of Brighton can do is do not go to the Hove track! Numbers have gone down dramatically but we need people to spread the word about the cruelty and stop other people going. The track is prime land for affordable housing so write to the council and suggest this. We have an online petition for people to sign.”

The spokesperson for the GBGB said:

“Our Greyhound Commitment, which was launched in 2018, sets out our expectations for how our sport should be run with greyhound welfare at its heart and establishes our ambitions for the future. Through this, we are determined to improve standards even further and are continuing to develop initiatives that ensure we continue to deliver a sport that is safe, welfare-driven and run with outstanding integrity.”

To learn more from both sides of the story, visit https://www.gbgb.org.uk/ and www.closehovedogtrack.co.uk

Featured image: © Herbert2512

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