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Greyhound Rescue - Whittingham Kennels

Walthamstow Greyhound Racing Stadium


On the 16th August 2008 the Walthamstow greyhound racing stadium closed its gates for the last time leaving a legacy of 170 greyhounds needing to find homes.  These dogs were fortunate enough to fall under the care of Johanna Beumer who has been re-homing greyhounds for over 40 years and was awarded the MBE in 2007 for her services to greyhound welfare.  In just one year, only 18 of the Walthamstow greyhounds remain, the rest have been successfully adopted. A remarkable achievement considering the country has suffered a severe recession during that time.  Of course, with over 13,000 dogs nationwide leaving the racing industry every year there are more than just Walthamstow greyhounds wanting homes.  Whittingham kennels in Waltham Abbey, owned by Johanna, houses 48 dogs and for every dog that is adopted, there is always another greyhound waiting to take its place at the centre. 


If you are interested in homing a greyhound, Whittingham kennels are open to the general public at the following times:

Monday Wednesday Friday from 10am to 5pm
Tuesday Thursday Saturday from 10 am to 3pm

But please avoid feeding time between midday to 1pm.

The staff is always happy to recommend greyhounds to suit your particular requirements, and when you have chosen your dog, one of Johanna’s wonderful home checkers will visit you prior to the adoption.  They will also make a second visit once your greyhound has settled in to ensure there are no problems. 

Special events are held every year for successfully homed dogs and their owners.  Easter Monday is Easter Bonnet day when greyhounds can parade in their hats!  A dog’s summer party is held in Epping Forest on the first Sunday in July, and the Sunday before Christmas owners can enjoy another social gathering with their dogs and be treated to mulled wine and mince pies.


A special plea must be made for the male dogs.  People tend to believe that a dog will not be as safe with children as a bitch.  This is a complete fallacy as they are often better with children and are definitely more loving.   Greyhounds come in many colours, white and black, fawn, tan, grey and brindled but it is the black ones that are hardest to home.  No one really knows the reason why, one can only assume it relates to superstition, however, these chaps often have the sweetest natures, so don’t be put off by the colour



 A Healthy Option To Adoption
It is a proven fact that the company of a dog can improve a human’s health and well being.  Apart from encouraging exercise, they facilitate socialising with other dog lovers and can improve blood pressure and reduce stress levels. 
Unfortunately not everyone is in the position to own a dog either due to travel and work commitments, housing, cost, and many other valid reasons.  This is why the Whittingham Kennels Sponsorship Scheme is a particularly good one.  For only a pound a week you can sponsor a greyhound.  Not only will your donation help towards keeping these lovely animals but also you are welcome to visit your dog at any time during public opening hours and take him or her for a walk. 

Sundays tend to be highly social occasions when visitors sit around enjoying a cup of tea or a soft drink and cakes all provided by Johanna, who presides.  What better way to spend your free time by helping a greyhound and gaining all the benefits of canine company!

Joanna Beumer MBE

Johanna’s love affair with greyhounds began at the age of 11 when her parents started to take her dog racing at Walthamstow Stadium and, where one day, she would become Chairman of the Racing Association.  In the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s greyhound racing was at its peak and was a social event for the whole family to enjoy.  In the 70’s there were ten stadiums in London but now only Wimbledon remains.  By the end of the 80’s the popularity of dog racing began to wane and the stadium sites gradually gave way to large shopping malls and, in Hackney, the Olympic village. 

Johanna’s 21st birthday was fast approaching and her parents had planned to buy her a small car but she begged them for a racing greyhound instead.  Her parents relented and Johanna became the proud owner of her first greyhound, Sailor.  While racing, the dog was kept at the kennels and Johanna was only allowed to visit on Sundays due to security reasons and the danger of doping.  It was during her visits that she met Blackie, a kennel favourite.  She had been going to the kennels about 6 weeks when she arrived on Sunday to be told by one of the kennel maids to say farewell to Blackie for the last time. His trainer, Paddy Reilly, managed to find homes for most of his greyhounds but Blackie had not been lucky.  He was to be ‘put down’ the following day.  Horrified, Johanna insisted she could find him a home and she did. 

After Blackie’s successful rehoming, there was no stopping her. At first she persuaded the Chandler family, who owned the stadium, to let her to have two double kennels.  That was back in 1965 and when they could no longer accommodate her, Johanna moved to a kennel in South Mymms owned by Sid and Olive Ryall where they looked after resting dogs.  She housed 10 dogs there and held regular charity meetings to cover the kennel costs.  When the Ryall’s retired, Johanna moved to Dave Pett’s kennel in Waltham Abbey, where she rented space for 20 dogs and so more money from charity meetings was required.  Dave Pett died suddenly and the kennels were put up for sale but Johanna was unable to afford the asking price.  Luckily Bill Foley contacted her to say that his kennels were up for sale and he was asking a fair price, as he needed a quick sale.  Seventeen years ago Johanna became the proud owner of the Whittingham Kennels in Waltham Abbey.

Johanna had never been allowed to keep a dog at home.  Her mother ran a small school for 3 to 12 year olds (where Johanna also taught for 37 years) and their home was on a busy road.  Her mother feared a dog would run into the road and be killed so Johanna had to be content with a cat.  Sailor raced for two years, and when he was due for retirement, Johanna was heavily involved in re-homing.  She could not set a poor example by refusing to home her own dog, so mother’s dictum was over-ruled.  Unlike the greyhounds she homes these days, Sailor proved to be a difficult house dog, also she had no previous experience of caring for dogs.  Undeterred, Johanna got a job working at the kennels where she learnt everything she needed to know. 

Johanna Beumer is a remarkable woman.  She dispels the myth that greyhound racing enthusiasts have no interest in their dogs’ welfare and richly deserves the MBE awarded to her in 2007 for her years of hard work and dedication to re-homing greyhounds. 

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Whittingham Kennels owned by Joanna Beumer MBE is a rescue centre for retired greyhounds.   If you are interested in adopting or sponsoring a greyhound, you can contact Joanna Beumer...
Whittingham Kennels
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