As one of Britain’s first ever greyhound tracks, Monmore Green Stadium in Wolverhampton has a long and proud history in the sport.

Paul Mason, Stadium Manager and Welfare Officer at Monmore Green, has been working at the track in various roles for nearly 24 years. Here, Paul tells us how the safety and wellbeing of the dogs drives all activity at the stadium and how he works closely with Greyhound Trust Wolverhampton to ensure that racers at the track go on to find loving forever homes when they retire.

Paul Mason at Monmore Green Stadium

“In my role as Stadium Manager I oversee everything that goes on at Monmore – whether it’s related to racing, hospitality or accounts. I’m also the nominated Welfare Officer at the stadium so I work closely with our trainers, track staff and our homing centre, Greyhound Trust Wolverhampton, to ensure that the needs of our greyhounds are always being met both on and off the track.

As with all GBGB licensed tracks, everything we do is in line with the Rules of Racing so when it comes to greyhound welfare we aim to live up to the highest of standards. As part of the Rules, a vet is always on-site at every race and trial and examines each greyhound before they go out to race and once they’ve finished. As well as thorough checks on the physiology and health of the greyhounds, we ask our vets to pay extra attention to key areas which highlight their wellbeing, such as dental health and coat condition. We want to make sure that our greyhounds are not only fit to race but are also happy and healthy.

Another important part of ensuring the welfare of our greyhounds is track preparation which is carried out entirely with our canine athletes in mind. Our maintenance team and our vets work closely together to make sure our greyhounds are racing on the safest possible track surface. Like all GBGB tracks we have an annual inspection by track surface experts STRI, who provide a report on our racing surface and support us to make any improvements. In September this year, we re-laid our track using 1,100 tonnes of new sand.

Monmore Green Stadium in October 2020

However, the majority of the welfare work we do takes place behind-the-scenes, before a greyhound even enters our stadium. We make sure all our trainers have the tools they need to look after their greyhounds properly and do whatever we can to pass on the knowledge we’ve acquired over the years. One of the ways we’ve done this is by employing an independent company to inspect all our trainers’ kennels. It’s fantastic to see this initiative now being rolled out by GBGB with the new independent inspections for all licensed trainers that are starting in the new year.

We also pride ourselves in the work we do to find homes for our retired racers. In 2004, we helped establish Greyhound Trust Wolverhampton alongside Alison Bandurak. Since then, Alison and her incredible team of volunteers have built it up to be one of the most successful Greyhound Trust branches in the country, helping to home hundreds of retired racers each year. Whilst we fund the branch directly, we also lend our support by putting on fundraising events at the track throughout the year. This is normally on bank holidays where we raise money via bookmaker collections, raffles, competitions within the stadium and competitions online.

Alison Bandurak receiving an award for her services to homing (L) and Greyhound Trust Wolverhampton volunteers fundraising with their greyhounds (R)

In total, there are 25 spaces at the homing centre and we have 17 trainers attached to the track. To maintain fairness we allocate spaces by going through our trainers in alphabetical order and taking up to three retired greyhounds from each one. Once the greyhounds arrive at the centre, we make sure they’re thoroughly checked and their inoculations are up to-date and ensure they get spayed or neutered. Alison and her team then go about seeking a loving home for them.

We put so much effort into homing for the benefit of our greyhounds. Greyhounds love to race but they’re usually only racing with us for an average of three years before they spend the rest of their lives in their forever home. So, when they come to the end of their racing careers, we want to make sure they find the right home and can live their best lives in retirement.

Obviously, given the current circumstances, race days look very different at the moment and are taking place behind-closed-doors. But throughout all the restrictions we’ve faced in recent months, we’ve continued to put the welfare of our greyhounds first. When racing couldn’t take place, we made sure our trainers and Greyhound Trust Wolverhampton had everything they needed to continue caring for their dogs.

As someone who has been in the sport now for over two decades, I have to say it’s the people who have inspired me to stay on. We really do have such a passionate community in greyhound racing. The sport is just one of those things that gets under your skin – and for anyone who doesn’t believe me, come to the races and you’ll soon find out what I mean!”

Click here to watch a behind-the-scenes video showcasing greyhound welfare at Monmore Green Stadium.