Members of GBGB and a representative from Towcester Greyhound Stadium met with members of Animal Rising (AR) today in Central London. 

The meeting, which was at the invitation of AR, was for them to outline their viewpoints and to communicate their plans ahead of any direct action protests at the Greyhound Derby Final at Towcester this coming Saturday.

Following the meeting, GBGB Chief Executive Mark Bird said: “We felt it was the right thing to do in terms of meeting with Animal Rising. Whilst we are diametrically opposed, the meeting allowed us the opportunity to state that licensed greyhound racing is a legitimate sport with welfare at its heart and that our greyhounds are very much cared for and loved by those involved within the sport.   The meeting also provided us with the opportunity to see that AR have an animal rights – not an animal welfare – agenda.  Moreover, it was disappointing that a group that claims to be driven by science has only a cursory knowledge of our sport and has not even taken the time to find out about the practices which are in place to promote and protect greyhound welfare.

“What Animal Rising is proposing by way of an incursion onto the track at the Derby Final is both illegal and totally reckless. As well as endangering those protestors who attempt to run on to the track this also risks the safety of those who have to intervene to remove them from the track.  Most notably, this presents very real risks to the wellbeing of the greyhounds themselves who AR are supposedly trying to protect.

“Everyone respects the right to lawful and peaceful protest but what Animal Rising is proposing by way of direct action is totally untenable in terms of safety and we have made those exact comments at today’s meeting.”

Shaun Reynolds of Fortitude Communications and representing Towcester Racecourse added: “Peaceful protest is a critical aspect of any democracy, and we have no issue with campaigners demonstrating their views in a lawful manner.

“However, Animal Rising’s plans for Saturday’s English Greyhound Derby sit outside this bracket. Unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated, and we are in constant dialogue with Northamptonshire Police and our security operation to minimise any potential disruption.

“We are reassured by Animal Rising’s promise not to enter our track while a race is taking place. This promise does not take away from the extraordinary lack of knowledge Animal Rising and its members have concerning greyhound racing and the requirements of the breed which was evidential during our meeting.

“Saturday’s card will showcase greyhound racing at its very best and we look forward to welcoming racegoers trackside for one of UK sport’s most recognisable and prestigious events.”