The sport has been banned in some countries.
‘We Want Wimbledon,’ the campaign group hoping to keep Wimbledon Stadium as London’s last greyhound racetrack, has dismissed concerns that the sport is cruel.
Diane McLean, spokesperson for the campaign, said that the campaign has gathered 4,832 signatories in support of the redevelopment.
“We are very optimistic about the future of greyhound racing at Wimbledon,” he said.
The sport has been banned in South Africa and in six states in the U.S because of animal cruelty. It has been slated as inhumane by many who contest Paschal Taggart’s plans for a ‘mini-Olympic stadium’.
Ms McLean claimed that the races were monitored by vets, who would be present in the paddock area and at the track. She cited the Greyhound Board of Great Britain as responsible for ensuring the safety of animals at the races.
“All greyhounds are now micro-chipped and all owners are registered with the GBGB and are responsible for their greyhound when it retires,” she said.
“GBGB must be informed where the dog is once it retires, for example, if it has gone home with the owner or put into a Retired Greyhound Trust kennel for homing.”
The abandonment of retired greyhounds is one that has incensed animal rights campaigners, after investigations into the treatment of the animals who are often discarded by owners once they are no longer able to compete.
Ms McLean claimed that the greyhound ‘is the most protected breed of canine species’.
She denied that greyhound racing had lost its appeal, but that the value of the sites for redevelopment had affected the industry, with Wimbledon Stadium the last left inLondon.
“To lose the last stadium in the capital will bring about the decline of greyhound racing. Greyhound racing is part of London’s cultural heritage and the Mayor of London has expressed his concern over the loss of an active greyhound stadium at the Wimbledon site,” she said.
She doubted whether Mr Taggart would consider an alternative site should his bid fall through. The site has been used since 1928, and has hosted the English Derby since 1985. Although the money has fallen out of greyhound racing—Ms McLean says that the current owners of the site owe Irish banks over £53 million—the reward for the winner of the Derby is £200 000.
With stakes as high as these, it may not come as a surprise that greyhound protection groups have conducted their own investigations into the site. Greyhound Safe used a GBGB disciplinary hearing covering a greyhound giving a positive urine sample at Wimbledon containing the presence of amphetamine, within the GS Wimbledon appeal.
Ms McLean confirmed that under Mr Taggart’s plans to gentrify the stadium, there would be no space left for Wimbledon Car Boot Sale, one of the largest in the capital. An estimated 2000 stall-holders attend the car boot sale regularly, which happens every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
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