Miriam Margolyes Slams Greyhound Racing Ahead of Oxford City Council Debate
Ahead of an Oxford City Council meeting – during which members were set to debate a motion on whether the council should publicly oppose the return of greyhound racing to Oxford Stadium – acting legend and Oxford native Miriam Margolyes sent a letter to councillors, urging them to support the motion and oppose the cruel blood sport. Margolyes urged them to do right by the animals and compassionate Oxford residents who don’t want to see the greyhound racing industry return. In a recent poll, 71% of those with an opinion said that they would prefer the stadium be used for another purpose.
Yet, just hours before the council was set to meet, Labour councillors shamefully amended the motion to avoid having to speak out against greyhound racing publicly.
Instead, the amended motion was watered down and only gave councillors the chance to vote on whether the council should write to the government and encourage it to implement improved animal welfare rules for the greyhound racing industry. While this motion was approved, this action does little to prevent dogs from suffering and dying for this blood sport. Nor does it prevent dog racing from returning to Oxford Stadium. The council has shamefully ignored the will of the Oxford public and the cruelty driving the greyhound racing industry.
Miriam Margolyes on Greyhound Racing
“There’s much I love about the city I grew up in, including its rich history – but greyhound racing is one thing that should remain firmly in Oxford’s past. Let’s be clear: this is not a sport. It’s animal abuse, and it has no place at Oxford Stadium.”
– Miriam Margolyes
This is not the first time Margolyes has spoken out for greyhounds – the star has been backing PETA’s campaign against greyhound racing at Oxford Stadium since it began last year.
The council met, debated, and approved the amended motion – which means that it will write to the government calling for the introduction of legislation incorporating the recommendations of the 2016 Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Greyhound Welfare Report. However, the council did not, as was promised, vote on publicly opposing the reintroduction of greyhound racing at Oxford Stadium, consulting with Oxfordians on their preferred use of it, and exploring alternative, non-animal uses for the facility.
The councillors also didn’t discuss an e-petition that was signed by thousands of concerned residents and supported by PETA, as billed. This was due to the same issue being debated as a motion, limiting the time given to discuss the cruelty behind greyhound racing and why it must not return to Oxford.
Some councillors suggested that there is nothing the council can do to help greyhounds – however, every individual has a moral responsibility to speak out and oppose cruelty. The council must represent its constituents, who are against the return of cruelty to animals to Oxford Stadium.
Many, however, agreed with Margolyes and PETA that greyhound racing should be left in the past and spoke passionately about the issue:
The cruelty in breeding and racing greyhounds is well documented and should no longer have a part to play in a city with the prestige of Oxford. Greyhound racing has little relevance to modern society, there is an increasing awareness of the cruelty to animals that it involves, and the focus on gambling and drinking needed in order to make a profit is surely not something to be encouraged anywhere.
– Nigel Gibson, Oxford Vegan Action
We heard last week that greyhound racing will return on the 26 August. This time, right now, is a time to speak out, to stand up for good lives for animals, to stand against needless cruelty.
– Councillor Lucy Pegg, Deputy Leader, Green Group
It’s hypocritical that we treat some dogs like family members, sharing tips to keep our dogs cool during the heatwave while treating greyhounds like disposable objects. [W]e also wouldn’t accept this awful practice to our animal companions – who we love – so ask yourself why we do not extend this compassion to greyhounds and wholeheartedly oppose this awful practice returning to Oxford.
– Councillor Paula Dunne, Labour
I welcome the reopening of the stadium as part of leisure activities for the people of Oxford after it [has been] left unused for over 10 years. However, I can’t support the return of greyhound racing and the problems associated with it.
– Councillor Laurence Fouweather, Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrat Group
Times have changed, social norms and attitudes have changed, and greyhound racing is no longer acceptable, nor should it have ever been acceptable.
– Councillor Katherine Miles, Liberal Democrats
Greyhound Racing: Archaic and Cruel
As many as 12,000 greyhound pups may be killed every year in the name of selective breeding, according to the group then called the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare.
Those who are deemed suitable for racing are typically kept muzzled in cages for 95% of their lives and let out only for races. Dogs have been found doped, and some test positive for Class A drugs – including cocaine. Once their racing days are over, many are abandoned or killed.
A recent report released by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain revealed that more than 400 greyhounds used for racing died or were euthanised in 2020, despite COVID-19 restrictions that drastically reduced the number of fixtures. Gaps in official records also suggest that thousands of dogs “disappear” every year – these animals are presumed dead.
Recommending reforms to improve greyhound welfare will not change the inherently cruel nature of greyhound racing, which is self-regulated. The only way to stop dogs from suffering is to end the blood sport, and individuals should stay away from race tracks.
Animal-Friendly Entertainment Is Available
The stadium should instead host sports involving willing human participants. British Cycling has assessed the facility and approved its suitability for development into a velodrome, for example – something that willing participants, including future Oxford Olympians, could enjoy.
How You Can Help
To date, over 32,000 concerned residents and PETA supporters have urged Oxford City Council to oppose the return of greyhound racing.
You can join them – and Miriam Margolyes – by sending the council a message now: