MORE than a quarter of a million pounds has been invested to improve conditions for greyhounds upon the return of racing at Oxford Stadium next year.

The stadium’s kennel and veterinary facilities have received the investment, while a partnership with trainers and the Greyhound Trust will be formed to ensure the canines are rehomed once their racing careers end.

Kevin Boothby, Oxford Stadium managing director, said greyhound welfare will be the ‘utmost priority’.

He said: “Our standards of care will go far beyond requirements for domestic dog owners across the UK, and we also want to be at the forefront of animal welfare globally.

“Trainers and owners will adhere to the exceptionally high standards greyhound racing has established via the Greyhound Board of Great Britain’s (GBGB) Rules of Racing to provide every dog with the care and attention they deserve.”

Oxford Mail: Boxing Day greyhound racing in Oxford, in 2012. Picture: Andrew WalmsleyBoxing Day greyhound racing in Oxford, in 2012. Picture: Andrew Walmsley

Oxford Stadium says each greyhound that races at the Cowley venue will be ‘subject to a thorough veterinary assessment before and after they race’.

Mr Boothby said: “It’s essential we support trainers and owners in covering the cost of veterinary procedures to support greyhound welfare.

“Like any domestic pet, greyhounds are not immune to injury and occasionally they require expert attention.

“The GBGB has invested heavily in recent years to ensure all greyhounds are eligible to receive treatment so they can enjoy their retirements and we are proud to support this scheme.”

Oxford Mail: Kevin Boothby with two of his retired greyhoundsKevin Boothby with two of his retired greyhounds

In partnership with the Greyhound Trust and the GBGB’s greyhound retirement scheme, Mr Boothby has guaranteed every dog that runs at Oxford Stadium will be rehomed once they retire.

He said: “Greyhounds make fabulous pets and I am privileged to own some myself.

“With the right care and attention, every greyhound at our venue will go on to live a long and happy life.”

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GBGB figures show 3,575 greyhounds were injured in 2020, while there was 200 track fatalities.

Nick Weston, head of campaigns at League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Hundreds of dogs are killed and thousands more are injured trackside every year in greyhound racing across the UK.

“It’s plain and simple, to enter a dog into a race puts its life at risk.

“No amount of kennel care can change this fact.

“Greyhound racing returning to Oxford fundamentally puts animals at risk of harm and death.

“Whilst being a part of the GBGB and its injury recovery scheme may sound admirable, the need for such a scheme in the first place tells you that there is something very wrong with this so-called sport.

“We shouldn’t be focussing on how best to treat injuries sustained, but should be focussed on preventing them in the first place.”