Tuesday, 26 June 2012

GBGW – how the stats stack up

(Photo courtesy of Nigel Wild)
  • Greyhounds on the Oxford GBGW (led by Dash, see pic above): 44
  • Greyhounds on the nationwide GBGW (67 locations): 2,230
  • Greyhounds needing new homes (annually): 10,000
  • Greyhounds finding new homes (annually): 4,000 (RGT)
  • Greyhounds languishing in kennels: ???
  • Greyhounds being destroyed: ???

Last Sunday’s ‘Great British Greyhound Walk’ was certainly a Great event. It got hounds from all parts of Britain out and into the public eye; it got their adopters and fans out and into the fresh air. A total of 2,230 dogs taking part in a nationwide walk is a fabulous achievement. No question. But it got me thinking about the stats – how they stack up … or rather how they don’t. The Retired Greyhound Trust (still the biggest rehoming charity by some distance) reports that they succeed in finding new homes for 4K or so dogs a year. There are quite a few other smaller rehoming charities out there, of course. And a percentage of dogs may well “live out their post-racing days at the kennels of their owner or trainer” as the Greyhound Board of Great Britain claims. But is this really supposed to add up to 6K dogs annually? Surely we’d see retired racers everywhere if it did. Every other living room in the UK would have a greyhound stretched out on its sofa! No. A staggering number of perfectly healthy greyhounds must still get “humanely euthanized by a qualified vet” (Greyhound Board of Great Britain again). Or worse. In writing ‘Dash: Bitch of the Year’ I took great pains to tread a fine line between condemning greyhound racing (it’s supposed to be on the decline, after all) and acknowledging the history and energy of a sport which has made the modern greyhound what it is. OK, if you want to breed a winner, you need to breed more than one dog. But how many more I’d like to know? I’d also like to know why the British, supposedly a nation of pet-lovers, are still happy for damn fine dogs to end up homeless, loveless and often lifeless. Shame on us.

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