The Art of Diplomacy: Being a Greyhound Ambassador
Last September, GBGB unveiled our first Greyhound Ambassadors – a group of individuals representing those working across the sport including trainers, owners, vets and kennel hands. Whilst they all have different roles and live in all parts of the country, the Ambassadors all share a love of greyhounds and a deep commitment to safeguarding the welfare of our dogs. As Ambassadors, their role is to draw on their significant experience and expertise to actively support and promote both racing and the successful retirement of greyhounds. Here, Kim Sanzone describes what it means to her to be a Greyhound Ambassador.
“Whilst many of the Ambassadors have very defined roles within the sport as trainers, owners or vets, I have worn a variety of ‘hats’ within the industry which has given me a very broad insight into how the sport is run.
I grew up around greyhound racing as my parents were trainers and owners and so I fell in love with the sport from an early age. I began my career working as a kennelhand for my parents before working in a betting shop where I worked my way up to becoming a manager. During that time I was runner up in the Racing Post Betting Shop Manager of the Year competition and, as a result, I was promoted to Romford Greyhound Stadium as PR Manager. I then moved to Lifford Stadium in 2004 where I became the first female General Manager of a greyhound stadium in Ireland. After two years at Lifford, I went on to set up a greyhound supplies business and was on the Board of the Irish greyhound Skillnet which provided training on a variety of industry roles to those involved in the sport. I also assisted my partner in breeding greyhounds and thoroughly enjoyed bringing them up to schooling age.
In addition to my career in greyhound racing, I’ve always owned greyhounds, both individually and as part of a syndicate and have had many as pets after their racing life was over. In all of my roles I’ve tried to play an active part in promoting the sport, supporting and improving greyhound welfare and promoting what fantastic pets’ greyhounds make. I was therefore delighted when I was approached to become an Ambassador.
What is really pleasing about the Ambassador initiative so far is that, although we certainly do not agree on everything, we are all singing off the same hymn sheet. Greyhound welfare is very much at the heart of our cause and the Greyhound Commitment is hugely important to us all; it’s what brought us together. It is our collective ambition to ensure that the wonderful dogs at the heart of our sport get the very best treatment both throughout their careers and into their retirements.
Through this role we all play our part in helping GBGB on its journey to becoming more open and transparent and importantly, more responsive. For our sport to thrive, all our voices must be heard including owners, trainers, employees and fans. As Ambassadors, we come from all corners of the industry and have different expertise and interests that we bring to the table. In a way, we help provide a new channel to ensure that everyone across our sport is being listened to. I’m delighted that I’ve had lots of people contact me since becoming an Ambassador who have felt able to raise their concerns but who have also shared their ideas on how we can work together to make things better for us all.
Importantly, I’ve personally noticed a real shift in the positivity of the racing community and I feel we are rightly beginning to stand up for ourselves. For me, it seems that the general mood is that people are no longer willing to sit back whilst lies and myths are being spread. We’re all so proud of our sport and our dogs and will not let it be tarnished by those determined, by any means, to bring us down.
On this note, I was really proud of our Ambassador leaflet which we produced to explain what goes on behind the scenes on race day. It’s these small acts which will hopefully help make a difference to educate people. We have another project in the pipeline to launch a ‘Retirement Certificate’ for retiring hounds which we’re hoping will be welcomed by trainers and rehoming centres. It will provide a way for ex-racing greyhounds to carry their racing history with them into their forever homes so that their new owners are able to take pride in owning a former athlete.
Of course, it’s in its early days but I’m really pleased to be a part of the Ambassador scheme. I’m looking forward to the scheme progressing and working on new projects to help promote our sport and our wonderful greyhounds.”