The SAGE Story
The SAGE founding members started protesting outside Shawfield greyhound racing stadium in Glasgow in April 2017. Two years later, in April 2019, Scotland Against Greyhound Exploitation (SAGE) was founded. Since then we've focused on one thing: raising public awareness and using this to push for a change in law.
The weekly protests, or 'demos', at Shawfield continued but we started organising other events to spread the word further. The team worked tirelessly to grab public attention in preparation for our next move; we were taking the fight to the Scottish Government.
For those who aren't aware, Animal Welfare is a devolved power in Scotland. This means the Scottish Government has control, rather than the UK Government at Westminster.
The Scottish Parliament was founded on 4 main principles:
We knew the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions process had been very successful in effecting legislative change previously. We had faith that the Scottish Government would at the very least hear us out.
The SAGE Petition (PE 1758: end greyhound racing in Scotland) went live on 11 September 2019. We had just 6 weeks to collect enough signatures to prove our issue was of sufficient importance to make it beyond the first hurdle: the Public Petitions Committee.
We were aiming for 10,000 signatures... we got over 13,000. After weeks of non stop campaigning the petition was lodged on 23 October 2019. It was the 5th most signed petition in Scottish Parliament history.
In November 2019 we crossed the first hurdle when our petition was heard at the Public Petitions Committee. The committee referred our cause to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee for further consideration.
We'd made to the Parliament, but we needed an ally within.
In November 2019 SAGE trustees approached Mark Ruskell of the Scottish Green Party, who had already publicly voiced opposition to greyhound racing.
With Mark's help the petition remained live throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. More people started taking notice. The petition went from the EECLR Committee to the RAINE committee.
During that time we lobbied politicians, educating them on the realities of greyhound racing, sharing the industry's own horrific injury and death statistics. We campaigned for the public to contact their MSPs and facilitated this by provided letter templates, names, addresses etc.
Then something incredible happened.
Two days before SAGE Trustees were due to give evidence to the RAINE committee, the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), submitted a letter in support of our petition.
For the first time the SSPCA had taken a stance against greyhound racing. We received supporting statements from many other organisations, all of which can be read on the Scottish Parliament website. Over the following weeks the RSPCA, Dog's Trust and Blue Cross made similar statements covering other parts of the UK.
There was a media storm after we gave evidence to the RAINE committee. Several national newspapers picked the stories up along with the BBC.
On 6th October 2022 our petition made it to the Scottish Government where Mark Ruskell led a debate among MSPs. Every single MSP who spoke, from all parties, supported a ban on greyhound racing. The Scottish Minister responsible for animal welfare was challenged in her claim that existing legislation protected racing greyhounds. Ultimately the ministers deferred to the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC), a group that had been set up to review animal welfare provision. Greyhound racing was not a priority for SAWC until that moment.
The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission has delayed their response to the RAINE committee twice now. Their next deadline is February 2023.
Meanwhile SAGE continues to raise awareness among the public and the politicians to garner more support for our cause.
We are on the brink of ridding Scotland of this barbaric 'sport'. We won't give up until we do.