Assistant greyhound trainer hits back after criticism over Henlow track death

Assistant greyhound trainer, Kelli Windebank. Picture Kelli Windebank

Assistant greyhound trainer, Kelli Windebank. Picture Kelli Windebank - Credit: Archant

A former campaigner turned assistant greyhound trainer has hit back at criticism after a dog was put down following a fall at Henlow Greyhound Stadium.

Kelli Windebank has been an assistant trainer to Jason Bloomfield at Henlow for the past five years, having originally been against racing.

On Saturday, two-year-old greyhound Clona Honey fell during a race, hitting railings that run around the track, breaking her back before she was put down.

Campaign groups CAGED Nationwide and Shut Down Henlow Greyhound Stadium expressed their anger at the death, but Kelli believes that they have no feeling towards Clona Honey.

“It shows them up really because they are so happy that this dog had to be put down,” she said.

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“They didn’t know this dog, they have no feeling towards her whatsoever.

“There is no doubt there are trainers who let our sport down with their attitudes but, overall, people involved in greyhound racing are passionate and care massively for their dogs.”

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This is part of the reason why Kelli stopped campaigning against racing, as she thinks there is not enough focus on the dogs themselves.

“The actual dogs are why I stopped campaigning,” she said.

“I realised that a lot of people campaigning used to be into everything that didn’t seem to be that important about greyhounds, like being vegan.

“Greyhounds absolutely come alive for racing. They just want to run, that is all they want to do.

“So, by racing, they are doing what they want to do, so we just let the dog do what it wants to do.

“The track is prepared well and it’s the best place for dogs to run.

“It’s much better that they run on a track than on recreation grounds near roads.”

Kelli also expressed concerns about greyhound injury figures cited by CAGED Nationwide, which said from January 1 to December 31, 2017, there were 1,523 incidents at Henlow, including 1,443 bumps. In response, Kelli said that a bump is not an injury – “it is when two dogs make contact with each other”.

Great British Greyhound Board figures show that in 2017, there were a total 4,837 injuries and 257 track deaths.

Greyhounds at Henlow are also retired when the time is right according to Kelli, and suitable homes are found for them.

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