Speech in Milan by Aileen Ward, representative for Greyt Exploitations and the “All Party Group for Animal Welfare”, at our International Conference “FREEDOM FOR GREYHOUNDS”
Here is the speech that Aileen Ward, representative for Greyt Exploitations and the “All Party Group for Animal Welfare”, did at the Conference ‘Freedom for Greyhounds – Close the Canidrome and all Race Tracks Worldwide’, organised by Pet Levrieri in Italy on the weekend of the 23rd-24th-25th September.
Aileen Ward does very important and delicate work of a strategic nature on behalf of Greyt Exploitations within the UK parliamentary All Party Group Animal Welfare, to which she brings her competence, sensitivity, far sightedness and her gift for constructive dialogue.“The work of the British Parliamentary All Party Group for Animal Welfare”.
Good Morning to everyone and thank you to Pet Levrieri for their invitation to join you today and their very kind hospitality extended to us as guests. I am a campaigner in the UK with Greyt Exploitations,we are committed to the fight for Freedom of Greyhounds from the enslavement of a racing industry that costs their health, well being and so often prematurely, their lives.
I am also a supporter of a number of galgo and greyhound rescues across Europe where the use and disposal of hounds after racing and hunting is rife with so much suffering evident but where such compassion andcourage in their rescue rehabilitation and rehoming is evident. So what brought the plight of hounds into my life? I have adopted rescue animals all my life all breeds, sizes and behaviours. About 6 years ago a little whippet came into our lives we had asked a rescue to select a dog we could offer the best home to after losing one of our family and out he came, a little brindle bundle less than a year old, stick thin, he had been dumped in the snow at a local mountain range… After a lifetime of rescued collies, terriers, boxers and cross breeds this little fast fellow with his thin skin and big eyes was in need of love and a home and that’s what we gave him… we called him Walter. This dog was the same as every other rescued dog needing love, stability, care and routine and in return giving love affection and companionship but this little one had some differences; he moved so quickly off lead, ate like a horse but was stick thin, moved about a room without the use of a floor from sofa to chair to bed like a little deer, and wow could he sleep , usually in our bed. I joined a online forum Sighthound Welfare Trust run by a wonderful lbut now sadly deceased, Wendy Hassell and began to learn more, my love affair with sighthounds had begun … Wendy s forum lead me to understand that the world of the sighthound was very different than I had known. As I grew to know people and their dog companions I began to understand the speed, affectionate and compliant nature of sighthounds had also been used to subjugate them as hunters and racers, that their natural prowess and skills had been used to create a industrial scale industry in greyhound racing and that many of the dogs had endured horrific suffering before their adoption, many had never been so lucky as to know affection from a human hand.
While I could help raise money, sign important petitions I felt I could do more and so began to offer help with rehoming, home checking for adoption and transporting the dogs to and from rescues in the UK. As I don’t drive myself my husband thankfully helped me and many days we would finish work only to start a run from A to B carrying precious cargo..I m sure many of us here today have done this too. As a younger woman in the South of England I had been active in protest at live export of animals for slaughter when I first heard that greyhounds were being sent to China from Australia to race I offered my services to a campaign group Action For Greyhounds , to set up my stall in towns in the North of England And Walter and I did just that encouraging people s awareness of the greyhounds plight and asking them to sign a petition against the export of greyhound s to China and then again against planned exports proposed from Ireland to China that was being mooted at that time. I began to look at how the source of this suffering had come into being in the UK the commercialization of greyhound racing having begun in 1926 in Manchester,where the dogs came from where and how they were kept, rules of racing at Commercial tracks and independent tracks, animal welfare legislation and so on I realized this was more complex than the public like myself were being lead to believe that greyhounds get off the owner trainers sofa go for a nice run at a track then back home to the sofa .. I began to understand this was an industry with these dogs used as a disposable product, in fact in order to be profitable it relied on the dogs as a disposable product. At this time I worked in legal advice with a large UK charity that had driven changes in the law regarding homeless peoples need, I had confidence in the law being challenged on the basis of evidence of need in relation to law and did just that every day in the UK courts. Becoming more and more aware that no matter how many hours I and others put into finding rescues, rehoming and transporting greyhounds they just kept coming .. spewed out by the racing industry. I have great respect for our fellow rescuers here today and all those who refuse to look away from a pair of eyes in need selflessly devoting time energy and in many peoples case, lives to helping the dogs. I knew that I had to continue to help the rescues but I had to attempt to address the source of this and so I was introduced to Greyt Exploitations, the founder here today Trudy Baker I needed to know the facts I needed to make others aware of those facts and I needed to help to get the law changed. Trudy has spoken as to the ethos and work of the campaign and I have been asked today to shed some light on one aspect of where we work to inform and influence those in power in the UK … Parliament. I represent Greyt Exploitations at the All party Group for Animal Welfare attending monthly meeting with politicians and fellow advocates and have done for the last year. It is an opportunity to speak the truth to those in a position of power The interests of the APGAW group are wide from Rabies control to Birds of Prey strategy, Wildlife crime to badger culling…. The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) is an all-political party group made up of MPs, Peers and associate animal welfare organisations or groups with a specific interest. The aim of the Group is to promote and further the cause of animal welfare by all meansavailable to the Parliaments at Westminster and in Europe. APGAW seeks to influence the development and introduction of effective wide-ranging legislation to improve welfare and also acts as a discussion forum of politicians and welfare experts to looks at areas of concern. APGAW chooses topics which are likely to be high profile to discuss and can then put forward ideas for improvements to the current Government. My remit was to raise awareness of the greyhounds plight, seek interested others with greater resources to do so eg the Dogs Trust and to promote the need for review of the 2010 regulations regarding racing regulations which was due in 2015. APGAW, at ours, Grey2Kworldwide , LACS and Greyhound Compassion behest, adding pressure to thegovernment department- Dept Environment Farming Rural Agriculture (DEFRA) to carry out the review. As part of the review process a special committee was set up chaired by a MP and evidence was collected verbally and through written submissions across interested parties this evidence being submitted to DEFRA together with the committee s recommendations. We have just become aware of the DEFRA response it falls far short of what we had hoped for but we aren’t done yet .. We are mindful that in 2007 a report by APGAW themselves made recommendations which among them included disclosure of injury data a area GE has fought for ..this is still unacted upon as are many of the original recommendations …
we have asked APGAW to include in their strategy for 2016-17 a review of this 2007 report, in relation to the review of the regulations for racing 2010, the latter carried out this year …to identify what remains outstanding and how little has changed for greyhounds despite reassurances that their “welfare is paramount” We will hold those in power to account….we will not go away and we will raise the greyhounds plight at every opportunity until their suffering ends…every opportunity to speak the dogs truth must be used every avenue One might ask is it worth investing time and energy in this way.. ? Our work at APGAW is not a single activity within Westminster once a month but part of a organic strategy to raise the plight of greyhounds everywhere. Whether by informed comment on local planning applications where the future of a track is in jeopardy and housing or other needs can be addressed if it goes, to encouraging people to take factual evidence, we provide to their members of parliament asking them to lend support in any way they can to those in power understanding the price these dogs pay for a commercial racing industry.
Our work has featured regularly in the Press and media and I cannot describe how much joy it gave me to hear in some of the most far flung places in the UK including a Scottish Island ..people talking about injury data needing to be released into the public domain this , after a recent article had been released in the Times last year calling for such and referring to our work Lets remember it is not in some peoples interest to say yes this is an industry built and reliant on disposing of dogs when they are past their best …. lets get rid of it…just as it wasn’t in the interest for slave owners to say yes this isn’t right lets free everyone.. but a small group of people drove those changes through in society and so shall we. It has begun in America, Australia, we fight to close the canidrome in Macao tracks are closing in the UK but until the law is changed there will not be the tools by which to stop its resurgence….. until changes in the law …and in the publics knowledge of the industry are in place…. like two hands together .. Will freedom be won and secured forever.. and that is why we are all here today and do what we do every day what unites us bringing our energy and commitment to rescue, peaceful protest, persuasion and political challenge.. for the greyhounds future freedom Thank you for your attention today Aileen Ward Greyt Exploitations ©petlevrieri