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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Shambo Shambles

I wish that I could say that this was £200,000 well-spent but I cannot. It is the equivalent to the annual starting salaries of 9.5 nurses or 9.3 teachers. I know that the government had no choice and that the whole saga was necessary in order to prevent the risk of these animals passing on bovine TB to humans and other animals but still.

As the government spokesperson said: “The decision was not taken lightly and it was a difficult situation for all concerned. TB is, however, a serious health issue amongst cattle in parts of Wales.

“It is also a human health issue as it can be passed on to people as well as animals. The policy of slaughtering animals with the disease is applied to all cattle keepers in Wales and WAG has acted consistently in applying its policy."

I think that the least the Skanda Vale monks can do is to dip into some of the £2 million they have in the bank and recompense the taxpayer for the trouble they caused.
"I think that the least the Skanda Vale monks can do is to dip into some of the £2 million they have in the bank and recompense the taxpayer for the trouble they caused."

That's a very brave statement to make and one I wholeheartedly agree with. Unfortunately we all know that that simply will not happen and the government would never dare suggest it.

A Swansea Blog
It amazes me the amount of news coverage that this item over a cow has caused. Additionally, the amount of money that has been spent on trying to save this single animal, which has lived in the lap of luxury, and was, put down humanly by a Ministry of Agriculture Vet.

I suggest the readers of your Blog, read the following articles: The monk’s time would be better spent highlighting the fate of approximately 10,000 greyhounds in the UK every year.

The Sunday Times July 16, 2006

DAVID SMITH met the owners of the two greyhounds at his garden gate and pocketed £10 from each as he took hold of the makeshift leads.
With his chained-up rottweilers looking on, the bearded and bespectacled Smith led the lithe racing dogs — one a fawn- coloured brindle and the other black with white markings — across his plot and into a breeze-block shed.
The animals appeared sprightly and alert as if they hoped they might soon be allowed off the lead for a run. But seconds later two sharp reports rang out. They had been killed.
Anyone who had worked in an abattoir would have recognised the sounds as the discharging of a bolt gun, a weapon that fires a metal bar with enough force to smash the toughest skull.
The dogs emerged lifeless and limp in Smith’s bloodied wheelbarrow. He dumped them in a freshly dug hole on one side of his one-acre garden before covering the grave with earth using a mechanical digger.
Smith contemplated his garden for a moment with a look of satisfaction. On the other side of his plot his lettuces were coming up nicely.
The episode, on Wednesday, was captured on film by a photographer for The Sunday Times. It was repeated again the next day, this time with greyhounds emerging from a white van and a silver Ford Mondeo before disappearing into Smith’s killing shed.
It was a scene that has been repeated regularly in this secluded corner of the seaside town of Seaham, in Co Durham — a slaughter business that can be exposed for the first time today after a Sunday Times investigation.
Smith’s unofficial abattoir and graveyard have quietly serviced the greyhound racing industry in the north of Britain for about 15 years. Calculations by this newspaper suggest that over that period at least 10,000 dogs have been killed and buried in the plot at the back of his house. Before Smith, his father, now 81, provided a similar service.
According to a dog track insider, the trade has been a secret that greyhound trainers and owners have been keen to keep. “Only doing two dogs a day is a bad day for him. It is not unheard of for him to do around 40 a day and if anyone ever digs up that garden it will be like the killing fields,” we were told. “He has made a mint out of it.
“This service is for the licensed trainers who have 50 or 60 dogs in their kennels. The greyhounds are used for the afternoon races that appear on television. These dogs have made a lot of people a lot of money and they don’t deserve to be shot in the head. It is a scandal that the industry should be ashamed of.”
Campaigners have long suspected that such an operation was being run somewhere in Britain but have never been able to pinpoint its location. The RSPCA says about 12,000 greyhounds a year disappear and are unaccounted for.
Greyhounds have only a short racing life. Once they reach 3½ to 5 years old — out of a natural lifespan of about 12 to 14 years — they are considered too slow to compete. Some go to new homes as pets, in accordance with the official policy of the National Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC), the industry’s governing body. Many others simply vanish.
Debbie Rothery, who runs a greyhound sanctuary in West Yorkshire, said thousands of greyhounds were disposed of each year under the noses of the NGRC. “It is a sordid secret but nobody wants to know and it is about time it was exposed,” she said. “The RSPCA have told me they have not got time to pursue greyhound abusers and parliament does not do anything because they are making too much money from the industry.”
Greyhound racing is big business, attracting 3.5m people to its tracks each year, with millions more watching races on television. Every year £2.5 billion is bet on the sport and about £70m goes to the government in tax.
BBC News, Friday March 16, 2007.
A builders' merchant who killed racing dogs with a bolt gun and buried them at his home has been fined £2,000.
David Smith, 57, of Northdene Terrace, Seaham, admitted disposing of the greyhounds without a permit.
Judge Peter Armstrong said he would have jailed Smith had this been an animal cruelty case, but accepted the police and RSPCA had investigated.
Magistrates previously heard Smith had put down about two dogs a week for the past two years, at a cost of £10 each.
He was fined at Durham Crown Court following a private prosecution by the Environment Agency, after police said he had committed no offence.

It had been claimed that Smith, who was also ordered to pay £2,000 costs, had shot about 10,000 dogs, but magistrates were earlier told the figure was nowhere near that.
He was questioned by police, but it was confirmed the bolt gun used to kill the retired greyhounds was held legitimately.
Following a six-month investigation, the Environment Agency prosecuted him under legislation used to restrict the dumping of waste.
He admitted a single charge under the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations that, on 12 July 2006 he disposed of waste - the bodies of deceased dogs - on land without a permit.
Greyhound protection group Greyhound Action held a protest outside the court on Friday, and said it was disgraceful that the dog racing industry itself was not in the dock.
'Independent regulation'
A spokesman for the British Greyhound Racing Board (BGRB) said the organisation was disgusted by what had happened at Seaham, and that an investigation was ongoing.
Animal welfare was its highest priority, and had improved "vastly" in recent years, he added.
Inquiries by the RSPCA concluded that there was no indication animal cruelty laws had been broken.
A spokeswoman for the charity said if used properly a bolt gun was a humane method of killing dogs and there had been no evidence that Smith had killed the greyhounds inhumanely.
However the spokeswoman was critical of the dog racing industry.
She said: "It's vital that racing greyhounds are given the protection they deserve through proper independent regulation.
"The greyhound racing industry needs to clean up its act and ensure the dogs' welfare is a top priority."
The Observer, January 1, 2006

Somehow Rey had managed to struggle free from the rope strung around his neck, after being left to die a slow death by strangulation as punishment for being a bad Spanish greyhound.
Rey, who had a life-saving operation on his neck and throat wounds last week, was lucky. Campaigners estimate that 50,000 greyhounds are killed by their owners in Spain each year after they grow too old, or turn out to be too slow to hunt with.
Hanging is just one of the methods used. Dogs have been found thrown into wells, burnt alive and even injected with bleach.
But Rey's intended fate was, even within the levels of cruelty routinely shown to Spanish hunting dogs, especially nasty. The noose around his neck had been set at a height so that his front paws could not touch the ground, meaning that he was intended to stand on his back legs until he was too tired to support himself. When his legs finally buckled, the noose should have done its work.
'They call it the typewriting death, because the dog's back legs scrabble against the ground and make the clicking sound of a typewriter,' said Albert Sorde, of the SOS Galgos greyhound rescue group. 'It is a punishment they save for greyhounds that are deemed to have humiliated or embarrassed their owners.
'Rey's throat was severely damaged but we managed to find a vet to operate and, though it was expensive, he survived,' he said.
Greyhounds in Spain are used for hunting hares and in a local version of coursing, in which two dogs are expected to chase a hare, with the one that gets closest to it winning.
'The dogs are meant to imitate the swerves of the hares,' said Sorde. 'Those who don't, and make their owners look bad, are termed "dirty greyhounds" and are most likely to be killed by the typewriter method.'
Sorde's group alone finds homes for more than 100 abandoned hunting greyhounds a year. Rey found a new home this week after appearing on a Spanish television programme.
'Some are so scared of human beings that they can't really be expected to walk down a city street, or be adopted by people who don't have a garden or other dogs for them to be with,' he said. 'We often send those dogs to people in the United States.'
A global network has evolved of groups prepared to help save and adopt Spanish greyhounds. Some Spanish rescue groups now routinely send their dogs to homes around Europe, especially in Germany, Denmark or Britain.
Irish racing greyhounds also appear abandoned in Spain. They are imported to race on a track in Barcelona. When they can no longer race they are often used for breeding by those rearing animals for hunting.
Spain's reputation for cruelty to animals led the government to introduce a law banning mistreatment of pets last year. Fighting bulls and farm animals were excluded from the law but it is still unclear whether hunting greyhounds count. 'They are dogs so they should be considered as pets,' said Sorde.
The first two cases of cruelty to greyhounds are currently going through the Spanish courts, but verdicts have still to be reached.
There are signs, however, that Spaniards are no longer willing to tolerate the cruel deaths suffered by greyhounds. Last week protesters delivered a petition signed by 50,000 people to the environment ministry in Madrid demanding that the practice be outlawed. Measures being demanded include the registering of ownership of each dog, and the implantation of identity chips so that any animal found abandoned or killed can be identified and the owner contacted.
Ministry officials showed their support but, under Spain's system of devolved powers, it is regional governments and town halls that must enforce the law.
'Unfortunately, on a local level, the politicians are sometimes the same people who hunt with the dogs,' said Sorde.
Popular outrage, however, continues to grow. 'Ordinary people are beginning to react,' says Sorde. 'We have heard cases of hunters out with greyhounds who are being confronted by people shouting "murderers".'
That does not mean, however, that the killings have stopped. Every hunting season the hunters - some of whom breed dozens of dogs a year - choose which greyhounds they want to get rid of. That is the moment campaigners fear most. 'The worst thing is when we find several dogs hung together in clumps of pine trees,' said Sorde.

Gary Lewis
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