Towcester Racecourse chief exec hits back at greyhound welfare protest

Kevin Ackerman, chief executive of Towcester Racecourse
Kevin Ackerman, chief executive of Towcester Racecourse

The chief executive of Towcester Racecourse says the venue is committed to the welfare and safety of greyhounds that race there following a protest outside the gates.

Demonstrators gathered outside the racecourse ahead of the Greyhound Derby to protest against racing dogs and their thousands of injuries to show their objection during the industry’s largest annual event last Saturday.

More than 60 people gathered outside the entrance to the venue to protest ahead of the Greyhound Derby race

More than 60 people gathered outside the entrance to the venue to protest ahead of the Greyhound Derby race

More than 60 people gathered outside the entrance to the venue to highlight the cruelty they believe to be widespread in the greyhound industry.

Racecourse chief executive Kevin Ackerman said: “Being the newest greyhound track in the United Kingdom and home to the sports’ most prestigious race, from the very outset we have always had a clear commitment to the welfare and safety of all greyhounds who race at Towcester and are industry leaders in this field.

“Our pioneering greyhound commitment pledge includes ensuring all greyhounds who race at Towcester are guaranteed to have a safe, loving home after their racing career.

“We employ a full-time veterinary surgeon to check the health and wellbeing of every greyhound connected with the track.

“We have a dedicated welfare officer, who works closely with our vet and trainers to ensure the highest standards of welfare are always adhered too.

“No greyhound is ever put down on economic/commercial grounds.

“We continue to invest heavily in the track itself to ensure that track preparation and research is carried out to help keep injuries to an absolute minimum.

“The track was specifically built and designed with welfare in mind, the bends are the widest in the UK, enabling all greyhounds to run as fast around the bends as they do on the straights to minimise pressure on the greyhounds' joints and muscles and thus minimising injuries.”

The venue also publishes injury and euthanasia data, the most recent of which shows a total of 69 injuries from 6,448 performances during the first four months of the year.

No greyhounds were euthanised at the track during that period but three greyhounds were later put to sleep by their trainers' own vets on welfare grounds.

Campaigners believe the sport as a whole has failed in its duty to protect greyhounds, while using them for profit and entertainment.

Earlier this year, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain released figures revealing that 1,013 racing greyhounds died or were killed in 2017.

The figures also revealed that greyhounds suffer almost 5,000 injuries every year.

Director of campaigns for the League Against Cruel Sports Chris Luffingham said: “The greyhound racing industry has had more than enough chances to improve, and instead of life getting any better for the dogs, we saw the death of more than 1,000 innocent victims last year.

“Any ‘sport’ that results in animals suffering for the sake of putting money in people’s pockets, is one we need to call time on.

“You can’t have greyhound racing without dogs suffering, so we need to choose – are we a country of animal lovers or are we a country that supports greyhound racing? We can’t be both.”