There are numerous reasons why Jenny Bartlett won Advocate of the Year at the 2019 Greyhound Racing New Zealand Awards.
Her love for the sport is unwavering, her dedication to the greyhounds unrelenting, her passion for showcasing the industry in a positive light always at the forefront of her mind.
Bartlett is the driving force behind the Waikato Greyhound Racing Club’s (WGRC) latest project: greyhound vests which state on them, ‘Professional Athlete, Retired not Rescued’.
“I met a woman from the UK called Linda Bonner through Facebook,” says Bartlett.
“She’s involved in greyhound racing in the UK, and she posted a photo of these greyhound rugs. I got in touch with her about them, and she put me onto the UK manufacturer.
“We looked at getting them made here locally, but the cost was going to be astronomical. The UK manufacturer was excellent, and once I’d made contact with him, I put a photo of one of the rugs up on Facebook to see what kind of interest we’d get.
“I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but the expression of interest in them was phenomenal straight away.”
Bartlett, who herself has two retired greyhounds at home on her couch, pitched the rugs concept to the WGRC – and they were in. They purchased 70 rugs initially, with half of them already sold before they landed on New Zealand soil.
“I then contacted Greyhound Racing New Zealand and asked if they’d be interested in subsidising half of the cost – and they said that they’d actually pay for the whole lot.”
Rehoming agencies around New Zealand also climbed on board, prompting the WGRC to recently order another 40 vests.
“We decided to pay for these from our ‘Shoe Box Appeal’.”
The Shoe Box Appeal is another brainchild of Bartlett’s.
“I can’t take the credit, really. It’s another idea I got from the UK!” she laughs.
“We have our open days at the Club (WGRC) in March and October, and the money that we raise from those, we put towards the Shoe Box Appeal.
“At Christmas time, I get in touch with all of the rehoming agencies throughout New Zealand and ask how many dogs they’ve got in foster care. They come back with their numbers, I get empty shoe boxes from a shoe shop in Cambridge, and fill them with toys and treats, so every greyhound in foster care at Christmas time gets a shoe box filled with goodies,” she explains.
“Any money left over, we give that back to the rehoming agencies. Everything that we do is all intertwined. And now that the Shoe Box Appeal is starting to make some money, we’re able to support different things, and that includes buying this second lot of greyhound vests.”
The Shoe Box Appeal has taken place for the last three years, and it continues to gain momentum.
“It’s actually growing to the extent that a young lady who makes collars and leads contacted me not long ago. She said that she’d like to donate a collar and lead for the Shoe Box Appeal, which was really cool.
“What the Waikato Club is doing through its projects is trying to raise awareness, especially in light of what the industry is going through. The Club is actively trying to get the message out there and counteract some of the negativity by doing something positive.
“These ideas aren’t new, but they’re new for us in New Zealand. And if we can take something and use it here in New Zealand to help get messages across, then I say, let’s run with it and do it.”
– Greyhound Racing New Zealand
This article was published in the NZ Herald on 19th October 2021.