Last week I was upset to learn that BBC Radio 5 Live were promoting greyhound racing as “a great, fun night out”. Not only this, but Fighting Talk presenter Colin Murray has “adopted” a racing greyhound which the show is encouraging its listeners to bet on & providing live radio coverage of this dog’s races. The dog is called Showme Thebunny.
After listening to the show’s 19th August broadcast I felt utterly disgusted by the BBC’s treatment of this subject & their unashamed promotion of the greyhound racing industry. Having never previously complained to the BBC, I felt compelled to make my voice, & that of all the thousands of greyhounds whose lives are exploited by the industry, heard.
Here is the complaint which I submitted to the BBC via their complaints site on 9/9/11:
I am thoroughly disgusted that the BBC is endorsing the greyhound racing industry. Listening to Radio 5 Live’s Friday 19th August 7 o’clock evening broadcast, I was appalled to hear this cruel ‘sport’ referred to by presenter Colin Murray as “a great fun night out” before introducing his listeners to the greyhound they had “adopted”. I have 2 adopted greyhounds myself – adopted from greyhound rescue charities after they were cast aside by the racing industry having served their purpose. Greyhounds have a lifespan of approximately 12 years, & yet most racing greyhounds’ ‘careers’ are over by the time they are just 3 years old. These dogs are vastly overbred & many are disposed of as puppies when they fail to show sufficient interest in chasing a mechanical hare along a track. For the BBC to inform its listeners that they had “adopted” a greyhound makes a mockery of the many rescue charities that work both within the UK & worldwide to rescue, rehabilitate & rehome these unwanted (often neglected & abused) dogs when they no longer run fast enough, & causes me deep offence.
To listen to the presenters mock ‘ShowMe TheBunny’ as she got “bumped” at the first corner, a corner which for so many greyhounds is the last one they ever turn (tracks being purposefully engineered so that dogs are likely to injure themselves & fall whilst attempting to catch the lure), was sickening. Dogs who are injured at racing tracks are frequently euthanised when owners/trainers decide an injury is not worth treating because it will render the dog unable to race competitively – this often includes minor injurieswhich are easily treated & would have no longterm impact on the dog outside the world of racing. A
At the end of the broadcast, thanks were given “Owlerton Stadium & everyone with the greyhound association” – I wonder how many of your presenters/producers or indeed listeners were aware that Owlerton is one of the most dangerous greyhound tracks in Britain & its trainers are renowned for feeding their dogs class A drugs? Interesting how there was no mention of that on your program. Informing listeners that the light hearted, rose-tinted view which is being presented “is real dog racing” is not only misleading but false. I ask that the BBC not only withdraw their coverage of greyhound racing, but that you present your readers with the cold, hard facts about the treatment & fate of these dogs. I can guarantee that no-one will be deluded enough to think it’s “a great fun night out” then.
Needless to say, I have as yet received no response from the BBC.
Now, during the broadcast which I listened to, mention was made of a Twitter account which had been set up in the name of “adopted” dog, Showme TheBunny, with listeners being urged to ‘follow’ this account in order to receive updates of her races: @ShowMe_TheBunny I’m more of a Facebook person myself, but do have a Twitter account (@greyhoundgal) & thought I would go take a look. & thank goodness that I did…
About a year ago I posted some hand printed pet portraits I had been working on here on my blog, including this commission (sold via my Folksy shop back in July 2010) of retired greyhound, Bomber, chasing a football along with the tongue-in-cheek caption ‘show me the bunny’:
original photograph of Bomber & resulting hand printed image on ladies hoodie
Imagine my horror when I discovered my hand printed image was being used as an avatar/logo for Showme Thebunny’s Twitter account?! No credit whatsoever is given to me as the artist. What I am most distressed about, however, is the fact that my art actively promotes greyhound rescue & by using my (easily recognisable) image they BBC have associated both it & me with the greyhound racing industry & their show’s irresponsible attitude towards it!
I immediately submitted a copyright infringement report to Twitter & composed my second letter of complaint to the BBC in so many hours:
I am writing to ask that you remove my image from Radio 5 Live’s twitter account @ShowMe_TheBunny immediately.
The image which you are displaying as @ShowMe_TheBunny’s avatar is my original design (see http://www.folksy.com/items/678909-Custom-greyhound-hoodie-treats-pouches-RESERVED-for-Holly) & your use constitutes an infringement of copyright. My work is protected under law & this constitutes a breach of my legal rights. This is unacceptable & must stop.
Furthermore, in view of the facts that my business actively promotes greyhound rescue & by using my (easily recognisable) image you have associated both it & me with the greyhound racing industry & your show’s irresponsible attitude towards it, I demand an apology. I am seeking legal advice & this case will be pursued if you do not comply with my request.
As well as submitting this through the BBC’s formal complaint site, I have also emailed it directly to Colin Murray via firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com with copies forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org. I am still waiting for a response & my image remains on public display on their Twitter page.
& what was the reaction of the customer who originally commissioned this print when I told them how the image was being used by the BBC?
I would HATE any image of my beautiful boy to be promoting something which treated him and his companion like a disposable bit of consumerism.
If you are even half as appalled by all this is I am, please show your support by
- submitting a complaint to the BBC
- spreading the word via word of mouth, email & social networks
- joining the Facebook group ‘Tell the BBC to stop promoting cruel Greyhound racing!’
- tweeting your opinion to @ShowMe_TheBunny
- attending a demonstration such as the one planned outside the BBC Scotland headquarters at 40 Pacific Quay, Glasgow, G51 1DA this Saturday (17th September) 11am – 3.30 pm on Saturday 17th – owners are encouraged to bring along their pet greyhounds
- checking websites such as Greyt Exploitations & Greyhound Action for news updates
- asking any contacts you have in the press whether they might be interested in covering this story
My hope is that in some way the BBC’s careless use of my image can be used to create (more) adverse publicity against their irresponsible coverage & endorsement of greyhound racing. This is an opportunity to educate both the BBC’s staff & its listeners about the harsh realities of what goes on in the industry, so please, please consider taking action.