A LEADING animal rights charity claims the majority of people in Oxfordshire are against the return of greyhound racing.

Using data from a poll conducted by research consultancy Savanta ComRes, PETA and the League Against Cruel Sports claim most people in the county (71 per cent) would prefer to see the stadium used for another purpose.

Moreover, almost 30,000 people – including Oxford’s Miriam Margolyes – have now signed an online petition opposing Oxford Stadium being used for greyhound racing.

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PETA senior campaign manager Kate Werner said: “The majority of Oxfordshire residents do not want to see greyhound racing return and would not attend the races, which chew sensitive, intelligent dogs up and discard them like used betting slips.

“We are calling on local officials to respect the opinion of the people they represent and oppose greyhound racing at Oxford Stadium.”

Emily Lawrence, regional campaigns manager at the League Against Cruel Sports, added: “It is no surprise that the majority of Oxfordshire residents don’t want to see greyhound racing return to the city.

“Greyhound racing is cruel and outdated, and people are becoming more aware about the health and welfare implications the sport has on the dogs racing.

“No dog should ever be forced to race if there is a known chance of injury, or worse, death.”

The poll saw 206 people respond, and when analysing the data, the ‘don’t know’ responses were removed regarding the question on an alternative use for the stadium.

For that question, 153 people had an opinion.

The methodology was criticised by Oxford Stadium managing director Kevin Boothby, who said: “PETA’s survey is based on the opinion of 153 individuals – or 0.0002 per cent of Oxfordshire’s residents.

“It’s disappointing PETA and its campaign leaders consider this appalling turnout as opinions that represents the views of the entire county.

“To suggest that racing greyhounds are ‘discarded like used betting slips’ represents a total lack of knowledge and understanding of not only our sport but also the 24/7 care and attention our dogs receive.

“We’ll be proactively engaging with PETA and its campaigners plus anyone else in Oxfordshire concerned about greyhound welfare at our facility by hosting an open event to educate people about how much greyhounds are loved and cared for.”

Oxford Mail: Kevin Boothby, managing director at Oxford Stadium. Picture: Fortitude CommunicationsKevin Boothby, managing director at Oxford Stadium. Picture: Fortitude Communications

Jeremy Cooper, chairman of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, and former chief executive of the RSPCA, added: “Welfare is absolutely paramount within greyhound racing and everyone involved is deeply committed to always putting the health and wellbeing of our greyhounds first.

“Polls like this, with a tiny sample size and conducted by activist organisations with extreme agendas, only serve to deepen the myths and misconceptions which exist and are not an accurate representation of British views – or even those of the local community in Oxford.”

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This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Liam.rice@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailLiamRice