Yarmouth have become the second track to pledge to re-home all their ex-racers following the precedent set by Kinsley earlier this month.
Kinsley’s John Curran calculated that he would need to budget to re-home roughly 180 greyhounds per year from a kennel strength of 450 greyhounds. Yarmouth, who have a kennel strength of 297, would expect – to a similar average racing career of two and a half years – to re-home around 120.
Promoter Simon Franklin said: “We are doing more than that number already. In fact, we have homed around 130 already this year. In addition, I know that one of our trainers re-homes his own greyhounds through Blue Cross.”
Surprisingly, given those figures, the track still have 25 dogs on their homing waiting list, though they don’t include the litter of unwanted pups who trainer David Ward threatened to ‘put in a bucket of water’ – a threat that led to him being warned-off all racecourses by GBGB.
Franklin said: “We actually had two ‘accidental’ litters from local trainers and every pup was snapped up. In fact they were sold for £300 apiece and they were gone in no time. One of our trainers joked that he should be breeding pups to sell as pets.
“We also had an influx of dogs from two kennels. Some came from David Ward, and others after the GBGB stipes decided that a local trainer was struggling with all his old dogs. He had 40 ex-racers in his kennel and just couldn’t cope. We took in 20 of them.”
It is perhaps bizarre, that a track with such a fine welfare record have suffered more than most with trackside protestors. Franklin though, has seen a thawing of attitudes.
He said: “Some of the protestors started to take a greater interest and realised that things weren’t as they imagined. We invited them into the kennels and to a meeting as our guests. We also put on a track walk where probably a hundred of them turn up with ex-racers. They have formed a social group and attend picnics and other events. It has been very positive.
Ultimately, Franklin knows that he can only make homing facilities available, he cannot force trainers to hand over their ex-racers. But that doesn’t mean that they would get away with it . . .
“Let’s just say that I wouldn’t deal with any trainer who has his retired dogs put to sleep” he warned.