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Protestors off track with focus on greyhound racing.

THERE are many ways one can waste one's time, but few can be more utterly pointless than protesting that greyhound racing is cruel.

Last Sunday, at the sport's annual awards ceremony in Manchester, around 100 people gathered to shout "shame on you" at guests, not because their bow ties weren't quite straight or they had gone with an unacceptable dress/shoes combo but because they work in or love greyhound racing. Apparently around 20 such protestors gather at the local Belle Vue track before every meeting.

Let's make one thing clear: I admire people for giving up their time and energy to help with the fight against cruelty to animals, and people who mistreat animals are utter scum who deserve the harshest possible punishments.

But in setting their sights on greyhound racing these campaigners are barking up the wrong tree. I had 11 wonderful years working in the sport, first as a track official and then a reporter, and a theme of that happy period was the sheer love that shone from human to canine.

Yes, it's called greyhound racing but you could just as accurately refer to it as pet racing. These dogs were stroked and patted and talked to affectionately all the time, and it has always mystified and disappointed me that anyone would think it's a cruel sport.

Indeed, animal rights groups should actually praise those who work in the sport for the high standards of care these dogs are given and hold greyhound racing up as an example of how man and dog can work and live together so harmoniously.

Yes, there are injuries, which are occasionally fatal, yes, some greyhounds are euthanised because they are not suitable for the rehoming programmes that are run with such passion and energy when their careers are over, and, yes, there was the grim discovery of a mass grave filled with the bodies of dead greyhounds in Co. Durham in 2006.

But for the vast majority of its fourlegged participants, greyhound racing means lives filled with love, good food, good health and fun.

If the protestors wanted to find a more effective way of stamping out harm to dogs I'd respectfully suggest they patrol their local parks, where potentially dangerous dogs, left in the hands of moronic, irresponsible owners, are maiming and killing other pet hounds on an alarmingly regular basis.

Those who protest at greyhound tracks or functions like the one on Sunday clearly mean well, but their good intentions could be better translated into real help for the dog world by them accepting greyhound racing is not a problem area and finding more deserving causes for their efforts.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 30, 2014
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