For the first time ever, UK greyhound racing’s governing body has offered to work alongside an anti-racing organisation on a major welfare initiative writes Floyd Amphlett.
GBGB Managing Director Mark Bird has controversially offered to cooperate with CAGED, in an attempt to prevent the export of greyhounds to China.
In a letter to CAGE founder Rita James, Bird states: “. . .the GBGB is appalled at any dog being sent out to China for it to be abused. As you know, we are committed to ensuring that the welfare of all racing and retired greyhounds remains of paramount importance, as detailed within our Greyhound Commitment and practiced by those within our sport on the ground every day of the year
“Whilst there are many areas in which we differ in our views of our sport and our understanding of the facts, I know that you and I are equally concerned about dealing with any substantive evidence of abuse to current or retired greyhounds.
“I would like to hope that all of us can work together on an issue such as this so that we can approach government with a united front to campaign for a ban on demonstrably abusive exports. However, for this to happen it would require a maturity of debate and an agreed acceptance of where the real issues lie which, sadly, I’m not convinced that groups such as CAGED would ever be prepared to sign up for.
“We need to differentiate between those who carry out legitimate, welfare-centric exports and those who act either illegally or with no respect for the welfare of the dogs. Your campaigning approach – which incorrectly suggests that all exports are carried out in this way – does not help us create the compelling argument needed.
“This is highly unfortunate as I do believe that if all of us who have greyhound welfare as our primary objective came together, we could achieve much more in persuading government and others of the merits of what needs to happen.
“As regulator, GBGB, alongside others on The Greyhound Forum, will continue to do all we can to penalise those whose standards are not acceptable and to talk to government about how abusive exports can be stopped.”
Explaining his actions, Bird told Greyhound Star: “The bottom line is, the GBGB will never tolerate the abuse of greyhounds, racing or retired. They simply and manifestly deserve better than that. If that means that we side with Caged, a group determined to ban greyhound racing to create a ban on exports, similar to authorities in Australia and the USA, then of course we will. Before that happens, I have written to DEFRA and asked what their position is on this and am still awaiting a response.
“China is in the limelight but greyhounds have previously been exported to other counties as well for breeding and racing, yet we simply do not know what the respective country’s welfare standards are.
“If they are less than that of the UK, then naturally we would call for a ban. Greyhound welfare, in fact any type of animal welfare is the significant factor in these cases.
“We will liaise with the relevant authorities on this matter and if that happens to coincide with Caged and other anti-racing groups then I for one will side with them on this matter.”