War of Words – and Petitions – over Greyhound Racing

Image from Susi Anderl at Pixabay

The  League Against Cruel Sports’ senior public affairs officer In Wales, Billie-Jade Thomas, has reminded us: “On 8 March, the Senedd will debate banning greyhound racing in Wales, following the submission of a petition from our friends at Hope Rescue which received more than 35,000 signatures. The League Against Cruel Sports has long called for this so-called sport to be made illegal in the UK.

“Wales has only one stadium where greyhound racing still takes place – Valley Greyhounds, in Ystrad Mynach, South Wales. This independent track is currently unregulated, with no requirements for veterinary presence at the stadium,” said Thomas.”However, this could soon change if it finds itself under the control of the GBGB (Greyhound Board of Great Britain) as planned. This means the number of races at the track could significantly increase, along with the amount of injured and surplus dogs.”

Malcolm Tams, manager of Valley Greyhounds, confirmed that work is in progress to bring about GBGB licensing and “we will then have a vet on site all the time”. But he pointed out that Valley Greyhounds has been operating since 1975 under local council control: “There has been no requirement to have a vet here, but the council has inspected us every couple of months. We recently went to the Senedd to give evidence about all this, but they didn’t seem interested in it.”

He is dismissive of the petition submitted by Hope Rescue: “Nearly half the signatures on the petition came from outside Wales, and the numbers were inflated by thousands from the USA and from countries such as Argentina, Japan, India, Vanuatu and Uzbekistan. Despite a high-profile media campaign lasting more than six months, the petition attracted signatures from only just over one per cent of the population of the Caerphilly constituency that includes the Valley.”

Valley Greyhounds has now launched its own counter-petition to save greyhound racing in Wales and has collected 2,700 signatures in the first five days. Tams emphasises that these are predominantly from local people.

The League Against Cruel Sports remains adamant: “A ban on this cruel pastime in Wales is looking increasingly achievable, and only a ban on greyhound racing will ensure these gentle and intelligent dogs are no longer made to suffer in the name of supposed entertainment.”

Nigel Summerley

Nigel Summerley retired from The Oldie magazine to return to freelance journalism. He previously held executive staff jobs at the London Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Express before freelancing for 20 years for newspapers including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Guardian and the ‘i’ paper, plus a wide range of magazines. He continues to write about music, travel and health, and blogs at www.nigel-summerley.blogspot.com.

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