In a striking move towards advocating for the welfare of racing greyhounds, Blue Cross, a renowned pet welfare charity, has inaugurated a campaign titled ‘How to pick a winning greyhound’. Launched on 27 September 2023, the campaign utilises spoof adverts, which will be prominently displayed across the UK through various mediums such as billboards, digivans, and streethubs. The initiative aims not only to shed light on the often-overlooked plight of racing greyhounds but also to bring an end to greyhound racing as a ‘sport’ within the forthcoming five years.
The charity firmly believes that every greyhound deserves the chance to grow up in a nurturing home environment, cherished as pets, rather than enduring a solitary existence in kennels or being subjected to potential serious injuries or even death in high-speed races. Blue Cross is calling upon animal enthusiasts throughout the UK to lend their support, sign its petition, and rally behind the proposed ban on greyhound racing.
The statistics provided by the racing industry itself reveal a sombre picture: between 2018 and 2022, 2,239 dogs lost their lives, and a staggering 22,284 injuries were reported. A survey orchestrated by the charity to understand public sentiment towards greyhound racing indicated that a significant 91% of the British public neither engage in nor follow greyhound racing, and a mere 14% perceive greyhound racing as an integral part of British culture. Blue Cross, echoing the sentiments of many, declares that enough is enough, urging pet lovers to appeal to the government for a ban and to sign its petition to terminate greyhound racing.
Becky Thwaites Speaks Out on the Tragedy of Greyhound Racing
Becky Thwaites, the Head of Public Affairs at Blue Cross, expressed her views on the matter, stating, “There are only 10 countries in the world where greyhound racing is still legal, four are in the UK. The avoidable injury or death of just one dog is a tragedy and that is why this so-called ‘sport’ has to end.” Thwaites advocates for a future where puppies are not compelled to mature in the isolation of a cold kennel, foreseeing a bleak future ahead of them, but rather, are allowed to grow in loving homes as cherished pets, where they can relish a snuggle on the sofa.
Many racing greyhounds find themselves retired at a tender age, often due to injuries. A considerable number of these dogs subsequently seek homes through animal rehoming charities, such as Blue Cross. Frog, a mere two years and five months old when he was admitted to the Blue Cross animal rehoming centre in Hertfordshire following the conclusion of his racing career, is one such example. He, alongside three-year-old Bluebell, had never known a life outside the industry, having spent their entire lives in kennels, their days filled with training, racing, and travelling to various racetracks.
Adjusting to Family Life: A Challenge for Retired Greyhounds
Sophie Stewart-Smith, an Animal Welfare Assistant at Blue Cross in Hertfordshire, highlighted the importance of aiding greyhounds like Frog and Bluebell in adapting to family life, given their limited experience of it. She shared, “It is vital to help greyhounds adjust to family life with so little experience of it. Frog was unsure of a sofa when we introduced him to one and needed lots of reassurance and treats before he dared to join me on it.” Stewart-Smith also pointed out a prevalent misconception that greyhounds, especially ex-racers, require abundant exercise. In contrast, in a family home, they are usually content with a couple of walks per day and a leisurely snooze on the sofa.
Frog has now found a loving home, yet his stay at the shelter was emblematic of a black greyhound, who often face challenges in finding homes as swiftly as other colours and breeds. In 2023, black greyhounds waited almost eight times longer than the more popular blue colour to find a home, underscoring an additional layer of complexity to their plight.
The campaign, now live, precedes scheduled races at stadiums including Doncaster (race 27 September), Romford (races 28, 29 and 30 September), the Valley track in South Wales (the only track in Wales), and the Shawfield track in Glasgow (the only track in Scotland, races every Friday and Saturday).
To find out more and sign the Blue Cross petition to end greyhound racing visit: www.bluecross.org.uk/EndGreyhoundRacing