Tony Peters is the UK co-ordinator of Greyhound Action, an organsation against greyhound racing. After becoming involved in greyhound rescue and consequently learning about the plight of dogs used in racing, Tony and his wife set up Greyhound Action in 1997. Since then they've campaigned against many breeders, tracks and the sport in general as dogs are often abused and then disposed of when of no use. Read on to hear from Tony and then watch the video at the bottom of the page for more information.
Shari Black Velvet: You formed Greyhound Action in 1997. How have you got word out about Greyhound Action since then and how has the public’s reaction been?
Tony Peters: By distributing leaflets at street stalls and demos outside greyhound tracks. We also try to get media attention through press releases and letters to newspapers. Public reaction has been very favourable and our campaign has led to a big reduction in attendances at greyhound racing.
SBV: How much time do you spend on Greyhound Action, personally? Is it a full time, 'all day, every day' thing? TP: Yes, it's full time, all day, every day. At one time it wasn't, but the popularity of our campaign has increased so much in recent years that there's now a very large number of enquiries to deal with. The small number of people involved in running Greyhound Action have to work very hard, as we are a voluntary organisation operating on a shoestring budget and cannot afford paid staff.
SBV: What are some of the horrors you’ve seen? You’ve said nothing has shocked you – but what might readers be shocked to hear about? How have the dogs suffered?
TP: The biggest horror in relation to greyhound racing is largely unseen, except by those who carry it out. What I'm referring to is the estimated slaughter of about 25,000 greyhounds every year in the UK and Ireland, after they fail to make the grade as racers or when their 'careers' on the track come to an end. This is often carried out by vets, but crueller methods, such as shooting, drowning and poisoning are also frequently used, because they are cheaper. What our supporters and members of the public do often witness, both live and via the internet, however, are the all too frequent horrific injuries to greyhounds racing on the tracks. The shape of a greyhound track, with fast straights leading into tight bends, creates a very dangerous environment for the dogs to run in and makes falls and collisions between the greyhounds inevitable.
SBV: Some of the dogs are kept in bad conditions. Tell us about how and where some dogs are actually kept, between races. TP: The conditions at the kennels of greyhound trainers often leave much to be desired and are sometimes absolutely appalling. At the track the dogs are often kept in cages or very small kennels for hours on end, while the racing is taking place.
SBV: You produce a newsletter and in the November/December issue mentioned a Swansea dog track closing, meaning there’s only one greyhound racing track left in Wales. On your website you also talk of other recent victories where other greyhound tracks have closed. What does each victory mean to you?
TP: The existence of each major dog track in Britain is responsible for the slaughter of about 500 greyhounds every year. Therefore, every time one closes, it's a great step forward for the cause of greyhound protection. Swansea was only a minor track, but dozens of greyhounds still lost their lives each year because of it, so its closure was also a cause for celebration. Just recently Coventry, another major track, has closed following an intensive 5 year campaign by local Greyhound Action supporters.
SBV: There are greyhound racing ads for a local stadium in various local newspapers. How do you feel about their ads? Does the fact they need to advertise every week show that it’s a dying ‘sport’?
TP: It's appalling that the newspapers accept these ads. It shows they put money before morality, but that's hardly a surprise. What's even worse, is that newspapers published in areas where greyhound racing takes place will often refuse to print anti dog racing articles because they fear losing advertising revenue. The greyhound racing industry has been dying for many years and all the advertising they do has failed to halt the decline. It could even be hastening it (especially in relation to the £millions spent on TV advertising) because if the ads don’t generate a sufficient rise in attendances, the industry ends up losing even more money.
SBV: With thousands of dogs being put down every year because of greyhound racing, what response have you had from the government to ban it? TP: The government isn't interested in banning greyhound racing, which is totally to be expected from an evil regime that is more interested in putting animal protectors in prison than in protecting animals. For greyhounds and other animals to get proper protection we need a total political change away from the pro-capitalist, materialistic parties, which is why I personally support the Greens. It's not the end of the world though, that the government isn't interested in banning commercial greyhound racing, because there is another way of putting an end to it, by educating and persuading the public not to go to the tracks.
SBV: You no doubt demo outside the tracks yourselves. What sort of people go to greyhound racing and do you think you’ve convinced many not to go by giving them leaflets and holding placards at the tracks?
TP: Basically, two types of people go to greyhound racing. The first category are the hard-core dog racing enthusiasts who don't care about the plight of the greyhounds. Fortunately, there aren't enough of these people to keep the tracks open and the industry relies very heavily on the attendance of ordinary people, just going for a night out, for its survival. The importance of this second category is the industry's Achilles heel, because most ordinary people are fond of dogs and many won't want to go to greyhound racing again, once they are made aware of the slaughter and suffering involved. This has been shown by the success of demos and leafleting campaigns outside several tracks that have eventually been forced to close due to poor attendances.
SBV: How does the UK compare to other countries as regards to greyhound racing? You have affiliated sites around the world. Which countries are the worst for greyhound racing?
TP: The other three countries, apart from the UK, that have major greyhound racing industries are Ireland, the USA, and Australia. The industry is in rapid decline in the USA, where 9 states have banned commercial greyhound racing in the last 20 years and several tracks closed in 2009. There are 19 major tracks in Ireland (as against 26 in Britain), many of which are kept alive by government subsidies, which have been considerably reduced in the past couple of years, meaning that some may soon be forced to close. The industry is stronger in Australia, where the campaign against it is fairly small, but, even there, several tracks have been forced to close in recent years due to lack of interest.
SBV: What should people do if they’re interested in getting involved with the campaign to stop greyhound racing?
TP: Contact us on 01562 700 043 or at email@example.com for more information.
SBV: What will you do when greyhound racing is no more? Will you turn your attention to other campaigns? TP: Yes, we'll continue to campaign to protect animals, especially in terms of persuading people to go vegan and adopt a cruelty free lifestyle.