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A night at the dogs anyone? Want to see behind the scenes of greyhound racing?

(5 Posts)
DogsBestFriend Mon 11-Jul-11 10:10:24

The Sunday Times
May 11, 2008
Greyhound breeder offers slow dogs to be killed for research
Daniel Foggo

The largest breeder of greyhounds in Britain is offering to sell healthy young dogs to be killed and dissected for research, an investigation has found.

Charles Pickering told an undercover reporter that his breeding programme continually throws up dozens of “fit and healthy” dogs that are “just a bit too slow for the tracks” and therefore a financial burden to him.

Pickering, who offered to sell them for £30 each, said he was helping to supply dogs to the animal teaching hospital at Liverpool University.

He provides yearling greyhounds to Richard Fielding, a greyhound trainer, who gives his older dogs for free to university veterinary staff, who put them to sleep and remove organs for teaching and research.

Pickering said he wanted to keep his dealings “nice and confidential” because it was “extremely sensitive”. The disclosure throws fresh light on the way in which the greyhound racing industry treats both retired dogs and those that fail to make the grade.

The Sunday Times disclosed in March that the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) was buying canine body parts from John O’Connor, a vet whose clinic was willing to euthanase healthy greyhounds, no questions asked.

An undercover reporter approached Pickering after hearing he was quietly sending young dogs to be put down at Liverpool University.

Pickering, a former pig farmer, breeds about 200 racing dogs a year at his Zigzag Kennels. Its website says: “We make the welfare of all our stock our highest priority.”

The reporter told Pickering that he was from another university and was interested in procuring surplus dogs for research. Pickering, 56, who is based at Dunholme in Lincolnshire, said: “We look to sell them [for racing] for a minimum of £200-£300 at 12 weeks [old].

“When they get to a year old we are hoping that we can get between £800 and £20,000 for the very fastest. But, of course, along the way we get some that aren’t quite suitable. If it’s in the interest of someone for scientific purposes or study purposes, well that’s a good thing. It’s better than just being put down and disappearing.”

Asked which of his dogs were not “suitable” for racing, he said: “We’ve got ones that simply won’t chase, they are absolutely healthy, fit as you could want, but just choose not to chase the artificial hare or are just a little bit too slow for the tracks. Or the ones that turn and fight.”

Pickering said he had been supplying up to 30 dogs a year to Liverpool University but “we could do more if required”. He later said that the dogs sent to Liverpool had either “finished racing or they are the ones that don’t make the grade” and were taken there by Fielding, who is accredited by the National Greyhound Racing Club, the sport’s governing body.

Pickering said that he could supply as many dogs as required at £30 each and could even breed them specifically to be killed. “When we are breeding, the ones that only reach the minimum standard for what we want, if we get too many of those it becomes a complication because we have to look for pet homes and all that sort of thing,” he said.

“I do give as many away for pets as we can, but these young ones, they are not used to the house environment. If they can have a use and help someone somewhere, and it gets me a tiny bit of money back, that’s all the better for me.”

Fielding, who is based in Lancashire told the reporter he had four “very healthy” dogs which he was happy to have taken away and killed immediately.

“I got shot of 10 old ones last year. Liverpool is a godsend in that respect because they are used for a good purpose.” He did not charge the university for them.

When contacted by the Sunday Times he denied taking any of Pickering’s dogs to the university and insisted the only greyhounds he took there were old and not rehomeable.

Pickering later denied ever having sent dogs for research.

Dr Eithne Comerford, who works at the university’s hospital and had arranged to take greyhounds from Fielding, told the undercover reporter that it was “not something we’re particularly mad about . . . we’re all vets”. She stressed that the dogs were “euthanased properly” and used for “multiple projects”. She said they were not paid for and the RVC scandal had caused “huge havoc”.

A spokeswoman for Liverpool University defended its activities. “Our approach to veterinary research is of the highest ethical standard. We only carry out research on tissues of dogs and cats that have died or been euthanased and with the full consent of the animal’s owner.”

So that's altight then, as long as the dog's owner said that you can kill him! angry sad

Daniel Foggo has investigated and reported numerous animal welfare outrages in the past and like all animal rights supporters I remain immensely grateful to him.

Scuttlebutter Mon 11-Jul-11 14:14:14

To be honest, in one sense these are the lucky ones in that at least they are PTS properly.

The reality for many greys is in fact much, much worse. We see this a lot in Wales (as with so many animal issues angry) as Wales is one of the last strongholds of "flapping" tracks. Dogs that are a bit slow or past it on English tracks often move into the flapping environment for a last shot at racing.

Flapping tracks are without even the minimal standards of care often found at the registered track - no vets are present for instance, even though broken hocks are a common racing injury.

Dogs that fail at flapping face a very grim future. Some are dumped and end up in the pound system, some end up with rescues, many are killed in horrible ways. [[ gives a good overview ]] and is not too graphic. reports on recent attempts at improvement, mentions the notorious Last Hope case (upsetting) - also features yours truly with one of our hounds.

DizzyDummy Mon 11-Jul-11 14:15:59

For so many reasons I would never go Greyhound racing but I know alot of people have no idea how much suffering goes on in the background. All credit to Daniel Foggo for bringing yet another aspect of the barbarity of this sport out into the open.

DogsBestFriend Mon 11-Jul-11 14:17:36

Very well said, ScuttleButter.

Scuttlebutter Mon 11-Jul-11 14:27:54

Two of our three dogs came via the English system as I described above. The dog I am actually interviewed with in the clip, was dumped in JANUARY (freezing cold) angry and was found wandering the streets after he no longer was useful for flapping. He is covered in scars and bumps. You can't see these very well in the clip since he is wearing his coat. He had raced in Ireland initially and has a fantastic pedigree. When my friend, who has lived in Ireland and runs the charity's shop saw him she immediately identified him as being part of a particular "line" of well known hounds. Sadly, all the breeding in the world won't protect you if you're not fast enough.
One of our other dogs was raced at Sittingbourne and again was sent to Wales as part of a job lot of slow dogs to try out. Fortunately the person who bought him was one of the very few decent owners, who passes on his dogs to the rescue rather than paying a bloke down the pub to shoot them. I've fostered others who've been dumped if they haven't worked out as "working" hounds, or are not used for breeding. You can pick up a slow dog from a track owner for as little as a tenner, even 3 for £20.

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