Over 13,000 people signed the SAGE Petition to End Greyhound Racing in Scotland!
Within a 6 week period! This made it the 5th most signed petition put before the Scottish Government at the time of submission.
We lodged the petition with parliament on 23rd October 2019 and have managed to keep it live in parliament despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our petition was first heard at the Petitions Committee on 21st November 2019. It faced opposition, but with the help of Mark Ruskell from the Scottish Greens it was fast tracked to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee. The petition was to be considered in the context of the upcoming Animal Welfare Bill.
The SAGE team was invited to give evidence at the ECCLR committee, but this was cancelled due to the COVID outbreak.
The ECCLR committee reconvened in February 2021, giving us little notice that the petition would be heard. We implored the committee to let us give evidence, but they refused.
We understood that the pandemic meant petitions such as ours were not a top priority, but we did not want to lose the momentum of years of hard work. We were so close and saw it slipping away.
Greyhound racing in Scotland suffered greatly through the pandemic and was struggling to recover. We saw it as a perfect opportunity to legislate against the industry, at a time there would be very little impact in socioeconomic terms. But the parliamentary session was drawing to an end. There was little desire for unfinished business to be carried over. This put pressure on MSPs to close outstanding petitions.
Many SAGE supporters lobbied politicians and we know this had an impact. Then once again Mark Ruskell from the Scottish Greens attended the committee to speak on behalf of the hounds. The team watched the live feed with bated breath. Thankfully the petition was kept open for the next parliamentary session to consider. Many other petitions were closed that day.
The Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee (RAINE) met on Wednesday 20th April 2022 where they took evidence from two SAGE trustees. Mark Ruskell also spoke, again supporting our plight.
Just days before the committee met, for the first time the SSPCA publicly announced their support for a ban and that they'd submitted a statement in support of our petition. This was HUGE!
As supporters with 2, 3 and 4 legs gathered outside the Parliament, the committee made an unanimous decision to progress the petition.
The Petition, and the outcome of the committee, triggered a media storm! BBC Scotland, both radio and TV, showcased the story as did many UK and Scottish newspapers. Further articles are being written as journalist begin to look into our claims of welfare concerns at Thornton. We hope that even if our dream of a full ban is still a way off, the scrutiny brought to Thornton through the enquiries and media interest, will at least improve conditions for the dogs in the meantime.
As expected there has been some comeback from the racing industry - or what's left of it in Scotland. The GBGB's Mark Bird gave an interview to the BBC in which he clearly distanced himself from Thornton, Scotland's only operating track. He made no mention of the GBGB track in Glasgow, Shawfield, which has been closed since March 2020.
While we await the findings from the committee's enquiry, the SAGE Team will continue to push the issue of greyhound racing into the public's consciousness through the media and awareness raising events/protests. We need to keep the momentum going!
You can help by lobbying you own MSPs - if (when!) the petition gets to a Government vote we need as much support in the chamber as possible! Use this opportunity to educate them and ask them to represent YOUR view as a constituent.
The huge support we've had from the public, other animal welfare organisations, the Scottish Greens as well as our regular protesters and post sharers has contributed massively to how far we've come. We can't stop now!