GBGB has provided more details about the Greyhound Retirement Scheme (GRS) which is due to begin on 1st September 2020.

A key initiative of GBGB’s Greyhound Commitment, the GRS attaches a financial bond of £400 (paid for jointly by owners and the GBGB) to each greyhound at the point of registration to meet the costs associated with homing at the end of its racing career.

In a Questions and Answers document, GBGB has set out in more detail how the scheme will work and has answered some of the key questions being asked by owners and trainers. The document sets out how the scheme will be administered, how greyhounds will be registered for the scheme and what will happen when a greyhound retires from racing.

Given the current and ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19 and having listened to feedback from owners and trainers, GBGB has announced that, for the first year of the scheme, owners will only be required to pay £100 of their £200 GRS contribution at the point of registration. The remaining £100 can be paid at any point up to and including on their greyhound’s retirement.

To support British breeding, the GBGB has also announced that, for the first two years of the scheme, owners of British Bred greyhounds (i.e. those born, microchipped and earmarked in Britain) will only have to pay £100. The remaining £300 will be met by GBGB on the retirement of the greyhound. This dispensation will be in force until 31st August 2022 at which point it will be reviewed.

The document published today confirms that owners with greyhounds registered prior to the start of the scheme can join the GRS and benefit from GBGB’s match-funding by paying the £200 fee at any time up to or on their greyhound’s retirement. It is, however, not a requirement for these owners to participate in the scheme.

GBGB’s annual contribution to the new scheme amounts to approximately £1.6 million. This contribution, which will directly benefit retiring greyhounds and their owners, represents 25% of GBGB’s overall annual budget demonstrating its commitment to welfare and to ensuring that every greyhound can enjoy a long and happy retirement.

You can read the GRS Q&A’s here.

Mark Bird, GBGB Managing Director, said:

“The GRS is a significant change in the way we approach homing within our sport. We all know that racing is only one chapter in a greyhound’s life and that we need to make provision for their life beyond the track. This scheme signals that we are doing everything we can to ensure our greyhounds enjoy a long, happy and healthy retirement.

“It has been encouraging to see the scheme welcomed across the sport but we know that trainers and owners continue to be impacted by the ongoing pandemic. This is why we have removed the requirement for owners to pay the full payment at the point of registration for the first year of the GRS. By spreading the cost over the course of the greyhound’s racing career, we hope to make it as easy as possible for owners to participate in this scheme.”

John Coleman, GBGB Owners’ Director, said:

“We have fantastic owners across our sport who always do the best for their dogs at all stages of their careers. Planning for a long and happy retirement for your greyhound is an essential part of responsible ownership and should never be an afterthought. I therefore welcome the introduction of the GRS, which will mean that every greyhound has a secure future before they even set foot on the track.”

GBGB is also pleased to announce that it has appointed a Greyhound Retirement Scheme Co-ordinator to administer the scheme. Paula Beniston, who will take up her post in mid-August, will work closely with approved homing centres, administer the financials of the scheme and provide an increased level of support to owners and kennels. A qualified accountant, Paula has over 20 years’ experience working with retired greyhounds, both as the former Head of Finance and Resources at the Greyhound Trust and as the owner of a homing kennels which she ran for seven years.

Commenting on her appointment, Paula Beniston said:

“The Greyhound Retirement Scheme is a hugely exciting initiative. I have witnessed first-hand the changes that have taken place across the sport, in particular the extensive work GBGB has carried out to protect and improve the welfare of retiring greyhounds. I am very much looking forward to working with owners, trainers and forging new relationships with homing centres to facilitate finding homes for these wonderful animals upon their retirement.”

Welcoming Paula to GBGB, Mark Bird added:

“We are delighted to have appointed Paula to administer the GRS. Paula brings with her the perfect combination of experience and expertise coupled with a lifelong love of greyhounds. We look forward to working with her and ensuring that the GRS gets off to the best possible start.”