Tuesday, September 4, 2012

GREY2K USA Investigates Greyhound Racing in the United Kingdom

A Ladbrokes Betting Shop
Over the past few years, our mission at GREY2K USA has been slowly expanding to include international campaigns. This shift is partly due to investigative work by Board member Charmaine Settle, who has made fact-finding trips to Macau and Vietnam. Her research led to the Rescue Brooklyn campaign, and our joint effort with Animals Australia, Animals Asia and ANIMA to push for an adoption program at the Canidrome.

This week, we are starting a new chapter in our international work with a fact finding trip to the United Kingdom. Our goal is to learn as much about the British dog racing industry as possible. GREY2K USA Board President Christine Dorchak and I are meeting with established animal welfare groups, adoption leaders and grassroots activists. We are also documenting as many different parts of the industry as possible. To reduce costs we are staying with advocates, and volunteers are helping us travel across the country. Our schedule is extremely full, and unfortunately we don't really have any downtime. I've always wanted to visit Buckingham Palace, but that will have to wait!

We landed on Saturday morning just after 6:00 AM, and hit the ground running. A few hours later, we visited a Ladbrokes betting shop. We have seen dozens of these betting shops since we arrived, an they are clearly one of the reasons why greyhound racing still exists in the UK. In these shops, gamblers are able to bet on dog races from throughout the country. Horse racing is also offered, along with slot machine gambling. The individual manning the betting shop we visited was gracious and even offered us tea or coffee, which we politely declined.

A trialing race at Henlow Dog Race Stadium
Later that night we visited our first track, Henlow Dog Racing Stadium. I was surprised at how narrow the race course was, compared to dog tracks in the United States. There were about two hundred people attending the races, and the crowd included young people and women. The track also had a hand-written sign about greyhound adoption posted in an area where people purchased food.

Overall, the track was much smaller than the large-scale commercial operations we have documented in America. Only six dogs compete in each race. Christine spoke to a greyhound trainer who had dogs that were being given trails to determine whether they can enter official races. After one of his dogs failed to post the necessary time Christine asked him what would happen to the dog, who is not yet two years old. He told her that he would simply have to get rid of her.
Dr. Caroline Allen

Yesterday we participated in a series of meetings with animal welfare experts, including veterinarian Dr. Caroline Allen, the national spokesperson on animal issues for the Green Party. Dr. Allen has been an outspoken voice for the greyhounds in the debate over Walthamstow Stadium.

Today we are meeting with several grassroots organizations including GreytExploitations, a group that has extensively documented humane problems in the British greyhound racing industry.

I'll try to write as much as possible about this fact finding trip, and share what we learn. So far, I'm very encouraged. It's clear that there are many people in the UK who care about greyhounds, and want to see positive changes.

No comments:

Post a Comment