Oxford Stadium boss says RSPCA bowed to animal rights ‘extremists’ after calling for greyhound racing end

The Oxford Stadium boss has slammed the animal charity
The Oxford Stadium boss has slammed the animal charity

Oxford Stadium’s boss has slammed the RSPCA for bowing to the “agenda” of “animal rights extremists” after calling for an end to greyhound racing.

Today, the RSPCA - along with Dogs Trust and Blue Cross – called for an end to greyhound racing.

The three charities stated that the organisations have worked with the greyhound racing industry to improve conditions for racing dogs.

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However, the charities said while this has led to some improvements, “we all believe there are still significant welfare issues for racing greyhounds which have not been resolved and cannot be resolved”.

The trio called greyhound racing “inherently dangerous” for the dogs involved and cited data from Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) show that more than 2,000 greyhounds died and nearly 18,000 injuries were recorded from greyhound racing between 2018 and 2021.

Chris Sherwood, chief executive of RSPCA, said: “It's shocking that more than one dog a day is dying due to racing which our review has determined is inherently unsafe and compromises their welfare at almost every stage of their lives; it simply isn't acceptable.

“We've tried to work with the industry over the years to bring in better protection and improve welfare for the dogs but we're not satisfied that enough progress has been made.

“We feel that now, moving forwards, the only way we can secure good lives for these dogs is to call for the sport to be phased out and we want to see greyhound racing consigned to the past.”

Kevin Boothby, Oxford Stadium managing director

In response, Oxford Stadium boss Kevin Boothby slammed the animal charity for bowing to the “agenda” of “animal rights extremists”.

Mr Boothby, who stadium’s managing director, brought the sport back to the city this year.

He said: “The UK is facing unprecedented animal welfare challenges with families already struggling to afford costs associated with the responsibility of owning a pet.

“The RSPCA revealed 38,087 abandonment reports were made to the charity’s cruelty line in 2021, and that figure is expected to rise significantly this year.

“It is sickening to read these statistics, and a heavy reminder that welfare, care and educational requirements for members of the public to take on the responsibility of owning an animal are shockingly low.

“The RSPCA, Dogs Trust and Blue Cross are well-placed to help decrease rates of animal suffering, neglect and abuse in the UK.

“Instead, they have chosen to bow to the agenda of a small number of animal rights extremists campaigning against greyhound racing who have been proven by Oxford Stadium to publish false, misleading and outdated information.

“All racing greyhounds are subject to outstanding levels of care 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

Kevin Boothy with a pair of greyhounds

“They are cared for by knowledgeable trainers, kennel hands and veterinary surgeons who dedicate their lives to the sport and understand the requirements of the breed.

“When their racing careers end, a bond paid by the owner that is matched by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) safeguards every dog’s future in retirement.

“Today, 9,997 out of every 10,000 greyhounds that race go home safe. And 94 per cent of retired greyhounds are successfully rehomed.

“We have an open door at Oxford Stadium and will happily show members of the public our state-of-the-art facilities and educate people how greyhounds live at home and in retirement.”

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Read more from this author

This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

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