UK national and international greyhound protection group 'Greyhound Crusaders' is calling on all animal lovers throughout the world to support a global campaign to stop the possible exportation of Irish racing greyhounds to China after recent news revealed that Chinese officials had met with the Bord na gCon (Irish Greyhound Board). The greyhound protection group now has celebrities Ricky Gervais, Annette Crosbie OBE and Jilly Cooper OBE backing the campaign. Helen Stevens, spokesperson for Greyhound Crusaders says "we were horrified after reading a recent newspaper article to hear that the Irish Greyhound Board is seriously considering sending racing greyhounds to China with the possibility of assisting the Chinese in establishing commercial greyhound racing over there. This in our opinion would be an act of insanity and if given the go ahead could not only have possible devastating consequences for the greyhounds but could also cause great detriment to Ireland. "We are doing all we can to try and stop this proposal and after launching a major campaign across our national and international supporter network, have received an overwhelming response from concerned animal lovers across the globe". Actor/Writer/Comedian 'Ricky Gervais' has now joined the Greyhound Crusaders campaign to stop Irish racing greyhounds being sent to China. Mr Gervais says "I am extremely concerned for these dogs, it's bad enough that many greyhounds are killed and injured through commercial racing in the UK, Ireland and other parts of the world, now the Irish racing industry wants to expand and send greyhounds to China. "I urge the general public and all animal lovers to support the vital campaign to stop Irish greyhounds being exported to China, they can do this by signing the online petition and writing to the Irish authorities, it is so important that we protect and therefore speak out for these innocent dogs who have no voice of their own". The greyhound protection group claims that greyhound racing is already deemed an inherently cruel industry due to vast numbers of racing dogs being killed, maimed and abandoned every year. Ms Stevens states "This is one of the main reasons why greyhound racing in the UK and the USA is in huge decline and why we as a greyhound protection group are vehemently opposed to it. Thousands of greyhounds are bred to supply this commercial industry and ultimately many die once their usefulness has been outlived. "If people would like more information on the plight of the racing greyhound they can visit the 'Greyt Exploitations' website www.greytexploitations.com/ "We have witnessed horrific evidence relating to countless cases of cruelty to dogs that have raced in the UK, Ireland and abroad, albeit dogs living in filthy conditions, drugging, greyhounds abandoned, sometimes with ears hacked off removing identifying tattoos, dogs shot or brutally killed, the list is endless and this is happening in so-called civilized countries that are supposedly governed by stringent animal welfare laws. What possible hope is there for greyhounds being sent to China, a country which is reputedly known for its unethical treatment of animals, where many dogs are skinned alive for their fur and others used for human consumption? "Only this week we have seen disturbing images from China on the national news exposing an incident where around 500 dogs due to be sold for meat were crammed into a lorry with no food or water. We can't even begin to imagine what possible gruesome fate awaits these poor Irish racing dogs should they be sent to China, not forgetting the 5000+ mile journey these dogs would have to endure being transported over there". Best-selling author and advocate for greyhounds Jilly Cooper OBE, is giving the campaign her full support and says "Greyhounds are wonderful, heavenly dogs – they are so gentle that they are easily abused. They are brave and true and will gladly run their hearts out for anyone. They also suffer enough abuse in this country and Ireland, so the proposal by the Irish Greyhound Board to send them to race in China is outrageous and is a betrayal of all the love and loyalty, joy and entertainment that greyhounds have given for thousands of years. It is a betrayal of the principles of animal welfare. "Sending these trusting dogs to a nation of 1.3 billion people with no history of respect or empathy or welfare legislation for animals only serves to emphasize the fact that money talks above compassion every time. The Chinese nation has an appalling record where both animal and human rights are concerned and there is not a hope of anything being in store for the greyhounds except the worst possible fates imaginable. "I give my full support to this campaign and can only hope that the Irish Government will decide against this proposal in the light of overwhelming public concern and the profound damage it will do to the international reputation of the country". Since news of the Irish Greyhound Board's proposal became public knowledge, greyhound and animal welfare organizations throughout the world have been out in force to protest against the idea. Demonstrations have taken place in the UK, Ireland and the USA by a number of greyhound and animal protection groups including a recent protest outside the Irish Embassy in London. Award winning actress Annette Crosbie OBE of 'Greyhounds UK' has also expressed her concerns, she says "It's not surprising that Ireland should be looking to make more money out of racing greyhounds than it has in the past. It's always been a source of revenue for bookmakers and the economy. In fact, when you count the numbers of dogs injured, let alone killed, in the run-up to the English Derby, you wonder why bookmakers don't open a book on that as well. So the possibility that dogs may finish their racing career in a country where they may be hung by their legs, still alive, in a market, where they can be judged to be worth killing and cooking, is probably of little relevance in this commercial transaction. I would like to think it would matter to some people". Greyhound Crusaders is looking to rally up even more support for the Irish Greyhounds. Ms Stevens adds "We are asking members of the public to please sign the 'Care2' online petition that has already attracted thousands of signatures so far but many more thousands of signatures are needed to stop this http://www.thepetitionsite.com/3/say-no-to-greyhound-exports-to-china/ and also to write to the Irish Greyhound Board voicing their protest and Irish Minister Simon Coveney TD (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food), the Finance Department and the Irish Minister for Tourism, urging them to reject the Irish Greyhound Board's proposal as an issue of morality. We are also asking people and animal welfare groups to write to the Irish Prime Minister and the Irish TDs (MPs), and their own MPs and MEPs. "If people need further details about the campaign and how they can help, they can internet search 'Stop Irish Greyhounds being sent to China' and this will give them a wealth of information via various greyhound and other animal welfare groups websites including contact details for the above authorities. "Mahatma Gandhi once said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated", we believe that if Irish racing dogs are sent to China that this will bring great shame on Ireland. We have already heard many people say they would be willing to boycott Ireland should this proposal be accepted. What impact could this decision have on the Irish tourist trade? This could be a very bad move by a country already facing serious financial difficulties. The decision to send Irish racing greyhounds to China could not only have serious consequences for the dogs, but for Ireland in general".