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Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare (Hersham Hounds)


Greyhounds make wonderful pets.  London Dog Forum can say this with absolute knowledge and sincerity having had a greyhound in the family over the last twenty years. 

The racing life of a greyhound is very short and once their career has come to an end, their fate can lie in two directions, they can go to caring organisations such as Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare where they will be looked after with love until they find a ‘forever home’, or they will be put to death.

I quote from Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare Rotary address: 

‘On the 12th July 2006, two greyhounds were secretly filmed being led into a shed, in Seaham, Co. Durham. They were never seen alive again.

Like many thousands before them, they were surplus to requirements; a disposable commodity, and not worth the cost of a trip to the vets to be put to sleep humanely.

David Smith, the Seaham slaughterer, dispatched them with the aid of a bolt gun, and then buried them on a piece of land next to his allotment. At £10 a time it was a cheap deal.

So where, you might ask, were those people charged with the welfare of the racing greyhound? Where were those people who were supposed to protect them? Where indeed!’

Greyhounds are not ‘status’ dogs.  They are gentle, quiet creatures that make the most wonderful pets.  They can be suitable for families with young children, they are excellent company for singles and are perfect for elderly people who like large dogs. They rarely pull on the lead and are usually content to sleep most of the day in between gentle walks and a couple of good average-sized meals. 

To learn more about the greyhound’s character click ‘Greyhounds As Pets’.


The name derives from the fact that the majority of greyhounds kept at this kennel are ex-Wimbledon racers.  The rescue centre, affectionately known as Hersham Hounds, was founded by Pat Bannister in 1980, who in those days worked virtually single-handed, however there have been many changes since that time.  The centre is not funded by the government, or employed by the racing industry to silence the critics and home as many greyhounds as they can for as little money as possible.  Strictly speaking it is not even a rescue centre.  Many of the greyhounds are gifted by their owners or trainers who have an express wish for the greyhounds to be homed.    The centre does strive to protect and assist as many greyhounds as possible and each dog receives the best possible care and opportunities for re-homing.  WGW are not anti greyhound racing but they do sympathise with those who hate the greyhound racing industry when hearing of the tragic cases of cruelty and neglect suffered by some greyhounds.

The kennels at Hersham care for about 80 greyhounds at one time.  They are looked after by five members of staff during the week and six at the weekends when the kennels is at its busiest.  Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare believes in employing their staff to ensure that the greyhounds will receive the quality of care they deserve.  A volunteer staff can be unreliable.   However to the dedicated members of staff the job is not about money and they frequently give up days off to run events, fund raise, take dogs to the vets and paint kennels!



Most greyhounds that come to the Hersham Kennels are well-rounded and unstressed as they have been used to living in kennels for most of their lives.  The average age of a greyhound that comes to the Hersham kennels is 4 years old.  (Greyhounds have quite a long life span for a big dog. LDF’s greyhound is heading towards 13 years old and some can live to 15 or even 16 years!)  Occasionally the arrivals are younger if they have failed dismally as racers or older if they have lived in retirement at their racing kennel. 

Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare is fortunate in not having to deal with cruelty cases where the greyhounds have been traumatised and even if a greyhound is nervous when they first arrive, they soon settle down.  Greyhounds are very adaptable creatures; however, having spent their lives in racing kennels, they will not have met other breeds of dogs, will not understand traffic or many domestic items such as hoovers and power tools and therefore they do have to undergo a bit of a learning curve! 

The staff, volunteers and walkers are all responsible for assessing each greyhound and introducing it to new experiences to see how it will react.  Greyhounds are easy-going dogs and adjust quickly to a new environment but each one has a very different character.   To home them successfully, it is essential to understand each dog’s needs and to match it to the most suitable owner.  It is no good homing a very nervous dog in a home with noisy young children or a very keen dog with an elderly person. 

Each potential owner will undergo a short interview and there is a short list of criteria that must be met before WGW will consider allowing adoption.  No dog will be homed to anyone who appears incapable of looking after a greyhound or is not committed to its care.  WGW prides itself on being totally honest and will make each prospective owner aware of any behavioural or medical problems a dog might have. 

After the initial interview a kennel staff member or volunteer will do a home check to ensure that your home is suitable and safe for the care of the greyhound. 

Occasionally, through no fault of anyone’s, a homing might not work out, if this is the case, the hound will always be taken back into the kennel.

If you are considering adopting a greyhound, you can either e-mail, telephone or drop into’ Hersham Hounds’ (Wimbledon Welfare Rescue) between 11.00am and 2.00pm to meet the current residents, but be prepared to have your heartstrings tugged very hard!  Contact details can be found at the bottom of the page.



WGW will never have a greyhound euthanized unless advised to by the vet for medical reasons.  Unfortunately there are always greyhounds that cannot be rehomed due to medical or behavioural problems and they will remain in the kennels for the rest of their lives.  There are currently 16 full-timers at present.  Each one forms a bond with its carers and receives as much love as a pet that has been homed.

To keep one of these greyhounds at the kennel costs on average £4000 to £5000 per year.

This is where YOU can help. 

WGW have an exceptionally good sponsoring scheme that allows for everyone’s budget.  There are 3 levels of sponsorship available:

GREYHOUND FRIEND - As a Greyhound Friend you will receive a personalised certificate featuring pictures of your sponsor dog, a photograph of your chosen hound, our newsletters, and a Sanctuary themed gift. £25 p.a.

SPECIAL FRIEND - As a Special friend you will receive all the benefits of a Greyhound Friend, and in addition a Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare calendar. £50 p.a.

V.I.P. FRIEND - As a VIP sponsor you will receive all the benefits of a Special Friend and in addition, a personalised plaque to acknowledge your support, which will be mounted on the kennel door of your chosen hound. £100 p.a

Looking after so many greyhounds, both the live in and rehoming hounds, costs around £15,000 per month.

Hersham Hounds raises money in a variety of ways and are always looking for new and exciting ideas to raise greyhound awareness and much needed funds.

Many friends and volunteers drop in to walk a sanctuary hound or to bring special treats.  Most weekends the staff and volunteers are out and about collecting for the hounds.  WGW also have regular events that are well worth attending.

By helping these beautiful, good natured creatures you will be rewarded a thousand fold with their trust, loyalty and affection and by becoming a supporter of Hersham Hounds, you will meet new friends all of whom share a common bond.

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Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare (WGW), also know as Hersham Hounds have as many as 80 greyhounds in their kennels at one time.  These are generally well-rounded characters having spent their time in...
Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare (Hersham Hounds)
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