...GBGB’s Mark Bird reiterates commitment to greyhound welfare...
GBGB’s Mark Bird reiterates commitment to greyhound welfare
Mark Bird, Managing Director of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB), has confirmed the standards body’s commitment to greyhound welfare, welcoming the launch of a new Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) initiative.
The MD praised the recent announcement that all BGC members taking bets on greyhound racing will pay into the British Greyhound Racing Fund (BGRF), generating an additional £1 million for the sport to fund welfare programmes.
As 75% of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain’s own funding is directly spent on ensuring the welfare of competing dogs, the sport relies ‘heavily on the voluntary contributions of BGC members’ in order to ensure its pledges laid out in the Greyhound Commitment are met.
“Greyhound welfare is very much at the heart of our sport and it is imperative we uphold the highest standards to ensure the future survival and prosperity of British greyhound racing,’ Bird commented.“Put simply, without happy, healthy and well-cared for greyhounds, we have no sport.”
Bird also highlighted the Injury Recovery Scheme (IRS), one of the primary initiatives of the Greyhound Commitment, which aims to provide financial assistance to the treatment of injuries sustained at GBGB racecourses.
So far, nearly 600 greyhounds have received support from the scheme since its launch in 2018, and Bird has outlined that this service will continue thanks to the new source of funding from BGC members.
Additionally, the initiative works to ensure that career-ending injuries do not progress to becoming life-threatening, enabling former competitive greyhounds to enjoy longer and healthier lives.
Building on this, the Greyhound Retirement Scheme (GRS) has contributed £400 bonds – paid jointly by owners and the GBGB – to each newly-registered greyhound, becoming unlocked when a dog enters an approved homing centre.
The GRS funds pay for kennelling, feeding and caring for retired greyhounds until a suitable home can be found for them. Over 1,000 greyhounds have benefited from the scheme since September 2020, and are now being cared for in 120 GBGB-approved centres or in a new home altogether.
Concluding his statement, Bird said: “As well as ensuring the sport is run with integrity, safeguarding greyhound welfare will always be a priority for us. We are therefore very grateful for the extra funding from BGC members.
“There is, however, always more we could and should be doing and I look forward to maintaining a constructive and positive relationship with all BGC members so that we can continue to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our racing greyhounds, thereby guaranteeing the future prosperity of our sport.”
Bird’s announcement follows the launch of a new relief package last week by the BGRF, committing 1.1 million in funding towards greyhound racing, focusing on homing, the provision of assistance to trainers and regular welfare checks.
Following on from the BHA’s announcement earlier this week on their plans for owners to return to racecourses from 29 March, GBGB has confirmed that any decision to admit owners ahead of the general public will be made on a track-by-track basis.
Mark Bird, GBGB Managing Director, said:
“Given their patience and support over the past year, we know that many owners will be seeking clarification on when they can return to the track to watch their greyhounds race.
“To confirm, this decision is not one that we are able to take as regulator; tracks are subject not only to government guidance, but also local authority decision-making. I have, however, spoken to many of our stadia to ascertain their plans and can confirm that the majority intend to welcome owners back alongside the general public from 17 May when they will also re-open their indoor hospitality.
“It is clear that all tracks are keen to prioritise their owners but we must aware that, as a sport, we are in a different situation to horseracing when it comes to facilities and space. A number of tracks still have staff on furlough until they are able to reopen fully and must continue to prioritise the health and safety of any visitors.
“Our stadia and licensees have done incredibly well in implementing our Covid-19 procedures so that our sport has continued to run successfully behind closed doors. Stadia are all busy planning ahead for a safe reopening and, on their return, we hope that owners are applauded for their continued commitment and investment in our sport.”
...GBGB Statement: Owner visits to residential kennels...
Following the easing of lockdown restrictions, GBGB can confirm that owners are now permitted to visit their greyhounds at their trainer’s kennel.
Any kennel visit must follow the guidelines published by GBGB to safeguard the safety of owners, trainers and kennel staff. Any visits must be by appointment only and all social distancing and hygiene protocols adhered to.
Paul Illingworth, GBGB Senior Stipendiary Steward, said:
“We are pleased to confirm that, from today, owners are able to book an appointment to visit and walk their greyhounds. Owners have shown unwavering support throughout the past year and the return of kennel visits is another step towards normality.
“We are thankful to owners and kennel staff for closely following the health and safety protocols we put in place back in July following the first national lockdown. These remain in place to protect all involved.”
...NSF inspections underway for GBGB licensed trainers...
The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) is pleased to announce that its new external inspections for residential kennels will begin in April.
The inspections are being carried out by experienced animal welfare auditors NSF International. NSF has carried out a successful pilot over the past months with a small group of trainers to allow auditors to familiarise themselves with the process. NSF will now contact trainers directly to arrange a date and time for their inspection, which will be taking place throughout the year.
This week, trainers will receive a letter and FAQ document via email to explain the new inspection process and to remind them of the wider licensing changes. These will also be made available in the trainers’ portal on GBGB’s website. If you have not received an email, please contact the GBGB office.
Peter Harnden, GBGB Trainers’ Director, whose kennels took part in a pilot inspection, said:
“We had our full inspection here and it went very smoothly. We felt that they were thorough but fair. We have said all along that the vast majority of trainers out there will already be meeting the standards but I would advise every kennel to now go and check the PAS, speak to their Stipe ahead of their inspection and get any issues sorted.
“I think that having these inspections in place is a hugely positive thing for the sport. It means that our kennels are being externally rubber-stamped as being top-quality which is something that no-one, inside or outside greyhound racing, can argue about.”
Paul Illingworth, GBGB Senior Stipendiary Steward, said:
“NSF has carried out pilot inspections with a number of kennels over the past months which has been a very worthwhile exercise. I want to thank all trainers involved in this and their staff for their cooperation and helpful feedback.
“The new inspections are part of broader changes in the way we license our trainers which will ensure that greyhounds receive the same consistent quality of care across all licensed residential kennels. It is another step forward as we look to gain UKAS accreditation for our licensing of trainers premises.
“NSF will contact trainers directly to arrange their inspections which will take place throughout the year. We hope that the document being sent out to kennels this week will answer any questions trainers have about the process. If you have any further queries please contact your area Stipendiary Steward.”