As the leading rescue charity independent of the greyhound racing industry, Forever Hounds Trust is at the sharp end of day-to-day work to rescue, rehabilitate and find homes for any one of the 9,000 ex-racing greyhounds coming off the tracks every year. Despite the efforts of Forever Hounds Trust and other rescues around 3,700 ex-racers simply vanish every year, never to be found. That’s over 18,500 in the five years since welfare regulations were introduced to protect them.
Forever Hounds Trust’s Honorary Friend Annette Crosbie OBE is fronting the allied campaign to improve the protection of racing dogs and reform of the regulations. We urge you to sign Annette’s e-petition today – but hurry, it closes on 30th March!
The Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is currently undertaking a review of these regulations and Forever Hounds Trust is taking an active part in the consultations, both under our own banner and as a key member of the UK Greyhound Welfare Forum, chaired by the Dogs Trust. We are providing hard evidence, giving details of the number and condition of the greyhounds we have rescued and cared for over the last five years. The data is disturbing.
Forever Hounds Trust is demanding to see progress, particularly in safeguarding dogs ‘from cradle to grave’. Currently the racing industry is almost entirely self-regulated and, while the regulations cover welfare at the track, where greyhounds spend just 10% of their time, they do not provide any protection for greyhounds during breeding, kennelling, transportation, or retirement. Greyhounds who race at the ‘independent’ tracks receive no protection at all.
Forever Hounds Trust is also a founder of GRAI (Greyhound Rescue Association Ireland), which brings together Irish animal rescue and rehoming groups to work as one association, lobbying for better welfare conditions and to promote greyhounds as pets for adoption in Ireland.
Many may recall the case of the ‘Wirralies’: 29 racing greyhounds kept in a property in Wirral, suffering terrible neglect and abuse. Forever Hounds Trust’s welfare team was actively involved in both the rescue operation, and the prosecution which followed. While pleased that Ian Street was given a lifetime ban from keeping animals, we were disappointed that his tangible punishment seemed so light compared to his crime – and that the racing industry had allowed this unspeakable cruelty to happen at all.
This case is far from isolated, as highlighted by BBC Panorama’s recent exposé of drugging in the racing industry, and many thousands of racing greyhounds still suffer from an appalling lack of concern for their welfare despite the introduction in 2010 of The Welfare of Greyhound Regulations.
In anticipation of the review, the League Against Cruel Sports and Grey2kUSA worldwide undertook their own investigations and produced ‘The State of Greyhound Racing in Britain – a mandate for change’ report. Read the full report or the summary paper.
Forever Hounds Trust’s position remains unchanged in light of the League’s report; we have always been serious about greyhound welfare.
The report lays out an eight point manifesto which Forever Hounds Trust has been quick to stand alongside:
- A five-year greyhound welfare review
- Independent greyhound welfare regulation
- Welfare transparency
- Drugs controls
- Track curbs (a controlled reduction in the number of tracks)
- Greyhound passports
- Rehoming requirements
- Breeding controls
The League Against Cruel Sports and GREY2K presented an overview of the report at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) meeting in the House of Commons in January.
Representatives from Forever Hounds Trust attended the presentation with Forever Hounds Trust Honorary Friend Annette Crosbie OBE, who is fronting the allied campaign to improve greyhound welfare. The report held no surprises for frontline volunteers who so often see the manifestations of poor legislative protection.
Our voice loudly joins those of other welfare organisations, all working towards the common goal of a day when every greyhound is not simply seen as a commodity but truly is free from risk or need.
For most of us though, what is the way forward? How can we help? It’s simple: continue to support Forever Hounds Trust, and watch our website and Facebook page. Please do sign petitions promoted there, and do present your views through the democratic processes which we all value and trust. Make your MP aware and urge him or her to speak up in parliament. It is time for change.
PS – Forever Hounds Trust is always seeking to further strengthen its welfare team, and we are keen to talk to suitably qualified and experienced candidates. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.