Speech in Milan by Trudy Baker, founder and spokesperson of Greyt Exploitations, at our International Conference “Freedom for Greyhounds”
Here is the speech that Trudy Baker, founder and spokesperson of the British group Greyt Exploitations, did at the Conference ‘Freedom for Greyhounds – CloseTheCanidrome and all Race Tracks Worldwide’, organised by Pet Levrieri in Italy on the weekend of the 23rd-24th-25th September.
A speech that shows the determination, courage, strength and sensitivity of one woman, Trudy Baker, and tells of the extraordinary work carried out by Greyt Exploitations to investigate and expose the industry and raise awareness, based on data and evidence. A must read.
The aims and achievements of Greyt Exploitations in the context of the British antiracing movement, and the situation of racing greyhounds and lurchers in the UK”.
I’d like to firstly thank Massimo, Stefania and all at Pet Levrieri for inviting me to this very important event where not only will we be celebrating the joy of 20 greyhounds and lurchers meeting their new families for the first time but also where we will have the opportunity to discuss with fellow advocates from around the globe on how best we can strengthen the greyhound protection cause and close down the industry – period.
I was born with an inherent love for animals and as a child had numerous small companions but we were an army family – so having dogs was always discouraged by my parents to avoid any trauma if we couldn’t take the dog with us to the next posting.
Once leaving home – I then had the opportunity to care for dogs in my own home and over the years have had the fortune to enjoy many rescued dogs as wonderful companions.
I was first exposed to the cruelty and secrecy surrounding greyhound racing when 30 years ago I went to Walthamstow stadium. We used to go for a night out in the belief that the dogs loved racing and we saw no harm in having what we thought was an enjoyable evening for both hounds and humans.
The enjoyment for both soon evaporated when one evening a poor injured greyhound was carried screaming off the track after a fall. I followed in hot pursuit to comfort the dog and make sure they were being treated. I was confronted by track officials and abruptly told the dog was ‘ok’ but was refused access to the kennels to check for myself. The next morning I phoned the track for assurances but yet again was basically told ‘it was none of my business’.
By this time – the alarm bells were ringing loud and clear. Why were they being so rude to someone who had clear concerns for the injured greyhound?
We never did go to greyhound racing again but the events of that night lead me to look into dog racing further. Greyhound Action were Britain’s only campaign group in the 1990s’ that called for a ban on dog racing. I began to follow their website and read about the thousands of dogs that were killed each year just to supply a betting product for the gambling industry. They carried the slogan ‘You Bet – They Die’ which perfectly describes the industry in just four simple words.
My first encounter with a companion greyhound was in 1999 at a friend’s house who had invited me to meet her beautiful brindle boy Bryn. I was in awe of his strength but also his gentleness. From that moment on I desperately wanted to give a home to a redundant greyhound and it wasn’t until I retired in 2001 to the North East of England and while volunteering for a local greyhound rescue did I eventually adopt an ex racing greyhound that had been dumped on the streets.
He was a beautiful white and brindle boy with the undignified racing name of Ringwaxy. Archie as I called him – was my first greyhound love and from that moment on I was smitten with these beautiful hounds.
The stream of abandoned – injured – abused – unwanted and unloved greyhounds that came into the rescue was endless and it wasn’t long before I realised that it would be impossible to home them all and always in the back of my mind I was questioning how many more never even made it to the rescue.
Then in 2006 a national newspaper exposed a man – living not far from me – who had been systematically slaughtering greyhounds and burying them on his land for over 15 years. It was estimated that he had killed 10,000 greyhounds but at last – the industry’s conveyor belt of mass destruction was now well and truly exposed!
Greyhound racing in the North East of England was and still is quite popular, having 3 large commercial tracks and 3 smaller independent tracks all within a 50 mile radius of each other. It was very difficult to gain support for local protests and more out of frustration and the need to do something – anything – I founded the group Greyt Exploitations with the intention of doing more online research and investigation.
Our first investigation was hugely successful, and following national media coverage the largest greyhound breeder in the country – who had been selling non chaser puppies to Liverpool University for research and dissection – was closed down.
The covert investigation however took its toll mentally and very near destroyed my soul. The suffering and cruelty I saw – and more importantly had to leave behind – will forever be etched in my mind, and it was a number of years before I gained the strength to undertake 3 more kennel exposures.
Although we obtained national media coverage, the highly commercial kennels still remain in operation today but the evidence we obtained helped to expose the industry and raise public awareness and contributed to the Government’s recent consultation on greyhound welfare.
Greyt Exploitations’ campaign now focuses on four cruel practices that the industry depends on for its profits.
The industry will always over breed and destroy puppies that are too slow or are disinterested in chasing the mechanical lure – to protect profits. The industry will always make the commercial decision to destroy injured dogs – to protect profits. The industry will always destroy greyhounds when deemed of no further use as a betting product rather than finance their homing – to protect profits, and the industry will always race dogs on dangerously configured tracks in order to supply an exciting betting ‘product’ for both punters and bookmakers.
The problem in the UK is further exacerbated because our Government have given the industry the right to self regulate and police itself. Despite the overwhelming evidence of the industry’s failure to apply the most basic welfare standards – our Government seem more predisposed in protecting the taxes generated from the gambling revenue rather than protecting the welfare of greyhounds.
So what are Greyt Exploitations currently doing to expose the industry , raise awareness and lobby for laws to ban greyhound racing?
We have invested heavily in equipment so as to monitor and record all the racing that is transmitted via satellite to the internet and to the bookmakers shops. We also record and monitor racing through the normal TV channels.
We have developed an injury data base spanning 8 years that contains details of dogs that were involved in incidents on the track highlighting a potential injury. A search facility allows you to indentify which of these dogs never race again after sustaining an injury thereby evidencing the wastage of these gentle souls – the majority not even 2 years old.
In 2013 there were over four and a half thousand greyhounds injured on British tracks and for at least one and a half thousand it was to be their last race – fate unknown. Our figures have been published in well respected newspapers and magazines and in parliamentary reports – helping to raise awareness and influence lawmakers.
Having personally been involved in the greyhound protection cause for 10 years, over that time I have seen it grow from strength to strength gaining momentum every year, while the industry continues to rapidly decline – lingering on death row in a manner similar to the life they bestow on so many greyhounds imprisoned in barren kennels just waiting to be raced to death.
I don’t know whether I will ever see dog racing banned in the UK in my lifetime. It matters not – what is important is that we try our best to do what we can – wherever we are – with passion and determination to bring an end to the horrific abuse of what must be the most exploited yet most beautiful breed of dog in the world.
Greyt Exploitations can only continue with your help – to fight for the greyhounds until all are free. Thank you for your time, care and compassion for the greyhounds
Trudy Baker Greyt Exploitations