Animal rights campaigners will stage a protest at the opening night of greyhound racing at Oxford Stadium.

Oxford’s first official greyhound race of the season is on Friday and PETA supporters will join members of the League Against Cruel Sports and Oxford Vegan Action in "causing a ruckus" outside the venue.

A spokesperson for PETA said: "They’ll decry the cruelty inherent in greyhound racing, which often involves killing puppies in the name of 'selective breeding', keeping the surviving dogs caged and muzzled – leaving them at risk of sores and parasites – and abandoning or killing them once their bodies wear out."

Oxford Stadium postponed races on August 26 and 27 ‘to guarantee all facilities connected to greyhound racing had been tried and thoroughly tested’.

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The Cowley venue has now passed its Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) track inspection, with the first fixture to take place on September 2.

Managing director of Oxford Stadium Kevin Boothby said it was "a huge moment for the stadium as we look to establish a new home for top-quality UK greyhound racing where the welfare and care of our sport’s superstars will forever be our highest priority."

Paul Illingworth, senior stipendiary steward at GBGB, said as part of its regulatory processes they had conducted regular visits to the venue, working closely with Mr Boothby and his team, as well as bringing in experts at the Sports Turf Research Institute "to ensure the track and facilities meet high standards we expect across our sport".

PETA said its threatened action follows a recent poll commissioned by PETA and the League Against Cruel Sports and conducted by research consultancy Savanta ComRes, which claimed most people in the county (71 per cent) would prefer to see the stadium used for another purpose.

Mr Boothby has criticised the methodology of the poll, and said: “PETA’s survey is based on the opinion of 153 individuals – or 0.0002 per cent of Oxfordshire’s residents."

Almost 30,000 people – including Oxford actor Miriam Margolyes – also signed an online petition opposing the stadium being used for it.

Ms Margolyes said: “Greyhound racing is one thing that should remain firmly in Oxford’s past.”

PETA is now urging people not to buy tickets to the event.

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Senior campaigns manager Kate Werner said: “Greyhounds are sensitive individuals, not money-making machines, and they deserve the same love and attention we lavish on other dogs.

"PETA urges everyone to boycott the races and cut off the cash flow that keeps this blood sport going.”

The League Against Cruel Sports said it will keep up its opposition to greyhound racing in the city.

Regional campaigns manager Emily Lawrence said: “The League will continue to call for an end to greyhound racing in Oxford until this so-called sport is permanently ended at Oxford Stadium and the dogs are finally safe from being injured or killed purely for people’s entertainment."

The protest is at Oxford Stadium, Sandy Lane, Oxford OX4 6LJ on Friday, 2 September at 5.30 pm.



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