North East greyhounds benefiting after racing retirement thanks to new protection scheme
The retirement of racing greyhounds in the North East is being protected from the moment they start their careers in a new scheme which has already benefited 9,000 dogs.
Each year families are sought for around 7,500 greyhounds across the UK, which typically leave the racecourse for rehoming charities aged three.
However, the process can be costly, with cash needed for neutering, vaccinations, food and shelter before the hounds, known as 40mph couch potatoes, are adopted.
Last September the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) introduced the new scheme which insists owners make a £200 contribution to the dog's eventual retirement when they are first registered for racing, with the GBGB matching the contribution.
In the first year alone 9,000 dog across the country have been enrolled, while 3,000 have already joined charities and families
There are three major greyhound stadiums in the North East, based in Pelaw, Sunderland and Newcastle, and every year hundreds retire from the sport.
Paula Beniston, co-ordinator of the Greyhound Retirement Scheme (GRS), said: "The greyhound racing industry has undergone a massive transformation in the past 20 years. The new scheme is an extension of an already huge leap in welfare standards, protecting the future of greyhounds from the moment they start racing.
"Greyhounds are now more popular as pets than they ever have been. Our rehoming figures show that more ex-racers than ever before are going on to find loving forever homes as pets, but there are still rehoming costs involved once they retire, and this scheme will help to cover those.
"The new scheme has been met with huge positivity from both the owners and trainers of greyhounds and the rehoming centres, and we are celebrating an amazing first year."
One dog to benefit from the scheme is Tigger, formerly Murleys Taylor, who raced at Sunderland Greyhound Stadium before she was rehomed in 2019.
Tracey Parbery, Chair of Greyhound Trust Hall Green, which has homed nearly 400 greyhounds through the GRS, said: "The GRS has been a lifeline to many Greyhound Trust branches.
"The knowledge that you have a guaranteed payment coming into the Branch against every greyhound you are finding a home for helps budget for costs and supports the welfare of each hound."