Animal Aid


Posted 1 March 2001

Annette CrosbieNicholas Read talks to actress Annette Crosbie - best known as the long-suffering Mrs Meldrew in television's One Foot in the Grave - about her campaign on behalf of abused greyhounds.

Outside of your career, your passion is the plight of ex-racing greyhounds. Why?

These dogs have no protection. There are plenty of people inside the industry who want change, but the media aren't interested in talking
to them.

Can you describe the life of a greyhound while racing and then what happens when racing days are done?

Greyhounds will usually start racing at 15 months. Treatment will depend on the trainer. They will have to run in all weathers and all conditions on tracks that vary from good to disgraceful. They will suffer injuries that will go untreated too often, and in approximately 18 months, their career will be over. They will be judged too expensive to 'mend', not earning their keep, and the owner will want rid of them. Some are kept as pets, more are homed by voluntary helpers, but most will be killed. Some will not make it past the schooling stage when they are little more than puppies and are simply killed because they show no aptitude for chasing. Every year some 30,000 are bred to race and 15,000 are registered. No one knows what happens to the other 15,000.

How do you change that?

Government needs to be persuaded to deal with it. This is a gambling industry controlled by the promoters and bookmakers who make the huge profits, and which is allowed to regulate itself. What is needed is an independent, statutory body with no vested interest.

What can people do to help?

Greyhounds UK is a pressure group we set up three years ago. We keep in touch with sympathetic MPs and try to promote greyhounds as the wonderful pets we know them to be. It would be tremendously helpful if people were to write to their MPs pointing out the failure of the industry to acknowledge its responsibility for the care and welfare of animals bred, raced and killed in the name of 'entertainment'.

Do your colleagues on One Foot in the Grave share your interest?

Richard Wilson is a supporter. Most people I talk to are appalled by the basic facts of greyhound racing as it operates today.

Tell us about your own greyhounds?

I've always had two rescued dogs at one time. One had died and I took an ex-racer because I'd read that people are reluctant to rescue them because of all the nonsense like 'needing so much exercise', 'huge appetites', 'killing everything that moves', etc. He was black, three years old, had never been in a house and never seen another dog that wasn't a greyhound. He was terrified. He seemed to settle down in no time, but after a year I realised how much he'd blossomed. We called him Tati - after Jacques Tati - because he makes us laugh so much. Because of him, I now have two more rescued greyhounds.

Is your interest in animals confined to greyhounds, or do you work on behalf of other animals as well?

My work for greyhounds is time consuming because I'm the public face of Greyhounds UK, but I support any effort to secure compassionate, humane, civilised treatment of every animal that has the misfortune to share this planet with us.

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