Kinsley is making arguably the most significant welfare initiative ever undertaken by a British greyhound track by pledging to re-home all of its retired racers.
The project has been put in place by a partnership between the local owners association and joint promoters John Curran and Keith Murrell.
Owners Association Chairman Mark Siddall said: “The initiative came about as a result of the streaming money being paid to the track by BAGS.
“Some of it went to prize money, but we also decided to look at how to best spend the rest of the money on direct welfare.
“We calculated that to re-home every greyhound on the track, we would need to place roughly 180 greyhounds per year. That figure is based on our on-going kennel strength of around 450, and an average racing career of two and a half years.
“We were previously re-homing around 40 dogs a year, so it was a major undertaking. But it has all gone to plan.
“We have already re-homed 170 greyhounds this year, and although we know that the last few weeks, coming up to Christmas will be quiet, and I am confident we will get there with a bit to spare.
“If we have underestimated how many we need to re-home, we will meet whatever target is necessary”
So how do they do it?
Mark said: “It is through partnership with nine independent home finding organisations spread between Hull and North Wales.
“When a trainer has a dog that needs re-homing, he puts its name down in a retirement book in the racing office with a deposit of £120 which the track then makes up to £150.
“Once a week, we check the book and make provision to bring the dog into our kennels.
“It is absolutely essential that when the dogs are moved on, they are in pristine condition, ready to go straight into a new home after all veterinary or other work has been carried out, including inoculations, dentistry and neutering/speying.
“We have eight kennels put aside to free up the kennel space for the trainers and to allow the dogs time to recover after their operations. It is run by two staff with the track making a contribution to their wages.
“When the dogs leave us, they go to the sanctuaries with new collars and leads and a new muzzle.
“Some of the kennels like to specialise. So we have provided one of them with a therapy unit to treat dogs who might have ended their racing careers carrying an injury. Another kennel tends to take on the dogs who have been returned by the new owner if the re-homing hasn’t worked out for any reason.
“In addition to the streaming money, we also still run our own funding schemes and collections. So, for example, one local runner, Harry The Hunter needed an operation for a bad broken hock that cost £2,500. We also bought and pay for maintenance on a van for West Yorks RGT.”
Perhaps is says much about the success of the scheme that at the time of writing, the retirement book was empty.
The man who has driven the scheme is joint promoter John Curran.
He said: “The success of this scheme is really down to the independent home finding organisations who have been outstanding. They re-home dogs of all ages and colours without a fuss.
“Now we know that some of those organisations are not in favour of greyhound racing. Not all, but definitely some. They are entitled to those views. I can live with that.
“But what we do have in common is a desire to create the best possible standards of welfare for re-homing all greyhounds.
“In fact, we have seen a number of supposed ‘antis’ moderate their views when they see what we are trying to achieve.
“It is clear to me that the greyhound industry has to revisit its home finding policies and look to recognise and financially support some of these independent kennels which are run by some very able and dedicated people.
“There is also an opportunity here for the bookmakers who have not contributed to the BGRF from their offshore business, to make a significant difference to greyhound welfare.
“They keep saying, ‘show us how you will spend the money’. Well can you imagine a better welfare initiative?
Curran cannot help but make an observation about that favourite banner of the abolitionists – YOU BET THEY DIE
“Ironic isn’t it” he muses. “Without the bookmakers contribution through streaming, we wouldn’t have been able to set up this scheme.”
YOU BET WE CAN RE-HOME EVERY ONE OF THEM