Campaigners for and against greyhound racing face off at Henlow

PUBLISHED: 16:55 26 February 2018

Anti-racing and pro-racing activists come face to face outside Henlow's greyhound stadium. Picture: Samantha Ken-Francis

Anti-racing and pro-racing activists come face to face outside Henlow's greyhound stadium. Picture: Samantha Ken-Francis

Archant

Campaigners both for and against dog racing came face to face outside Henlow’s greyhound track at the weekend.

Two retired greyhounds brought along to the counter-protest at Henlow Greyhound Stadium. Picture: Callum FranksTwo retired greyhounds brought along to the counter-protest at Henlow Greyhound Stadium. Picture: Callum Franks

An 11-strong animal rights group called Shut Down Henlow Greyhound Stadium picketed outside the track off Bedford Road yesterday, opposed by an about equal number of counter-protestors supporting dog racing.

The anti-racing activists, who claim the greyhound industry is inherently cruel, held up banners with slogans like ‘You Bet They Die’ and ‘Dogs Are Killed Here’.

The counter-protest group brought along retired greyhounds that have been rehomed, and held signs with statements including ‘You Bet They Love To Run’ and ‘Loved From Cradle to Sofa’.

Police were at the scene during the protest and counter-protest, which passed without incident.

The Shut Down Henlow Greyhound Stadium campaign was picketing outside for the second time in two months, after a larger protest in January that did not have a counter-protest.

In a statement posted on the Shut Down Henlow Greyhound Stadium group’s Facebook page after the protest, the campaigners said the pro-racing counter-protestors “tried to engage us in debate but we refused because all they wanted was an argument”.

An anti-racing demonstrator outside Henlow's greyhound stadium. Picture: Samantha Ken-FrancisAn anti-racing demonstrator outside Henlow's greyhound stadium. Picture: Samantha Ken-Francis

Speaking to the Comet, a spokesman for the group said: “Greyhound racing is steadily on the decline and activists shall continue their mission until every track globally is shut.

“All information displayed on our placards is fact. The truth hurts when the pro-racer realises that one is supporting animal abuse.”

Callum Franks, one of the counter-protestors, told the Comet they had come out to “show the public what greyhound racing is really like”, focusing on the rehoming of retired racing dogs.

The counter-protestors at Henlow Greyhound Stadium. Picture: Callum FranksThe counter-protestors at Henlow Greyhound Stadium. Picture: Callum Franks

They handed out leaflets to racegoers with facts, figures and information about adopting retired dogs through bodies like the Greyhound Trust.

The Greyhound Board of Great Britain, which governs the sport, has vigorously denied claims that many dogs no longer able to race, for example because of injury, are put down.

According to Racecourse Promoters Association data published by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee in 2016, 1,295 dogs at 22 tracks were euthanised between 2012 and 2014 – about 0.13 per cent of all raced dogs at those tracks during that period.

Henlow Stadium is one of 23 licensed greyhound racing tracks in the UK.

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