Northampton animal rights campaigner pleased by reaction to town centre horse racing protest
A Northampton animal rights campaigner believes people's attitude towards cruelty in horse racing is changing after he organised a protest in the town centre.
Mel Broughton, 57, of Northampton Vegan and Animal Rights Group, was speaking at the demonstration against the Grand National in Abington Street held in the hours before last weekend's race, which was held to highlight the cruelty they believe is prevalent in horse racing.
Although the group were confronted by some in disagreement, overall Mr Boughton was pleasantly surprised by members of the public's reactions.
"I’ve been quite surprised at how many people have come up and offered support, I thought people may be less open to what we are saying," he said.
"We’ve only had one or two people who have come up and pass the usual comments and wave a betting slip in our faces but generally people have been very understanding, and I do think it is to do with the fact that the lid is slowly lifting on the reality of the horseracing industry."
"In the last decade we’ve seen a massive explosion of people becoming vegan and maybe as a part of that process they’re looking at the way animals are treated by society and are beginning to take on board the whole issue about animals having basic respect and understand that we are dealing with complex thinking beings," added Mr Broughton.
"I think we need to remember that. They do share a lot of the emotions and traits that we do and we should start to think about that very seriously."
The group positioned themselves near the Ladbrokes and William Hill in Northampton's town centre, where they asked punters to take a second and listen to the reasons why horse racing is cruel.
"I think a general awareness through things like the vegan movement and the animal rights movement has meant that people are beginning to think about animals more and think about them not as commodities but as actual thinking, living, feeling beings, which of course they are," said Mr Broughton.
"And that will be the change that will see the biggest shift in human’s attitudes towards the treatment of animals. AndIi hope very much, I believe very much that in future generations that we will look back on a lot of these things and think ‘why did we let this happen?’"
Mr Broughton, who has worked in a horse sanctuary, believes that animals deserve basic fundamental rights - the right not to be cruelly treated or be exploited.
"Animals deserve respect for themselves, not just what they can give to us," he said.
"It seems strange to me in a nation of so-called animal lovers that we tolerate an industry and a so-called sport that sends so many wonderful animals to death."
He added: "We see millions of people often spending millions of pounds on their cats and dogs, which is good and I’m glad they do look after them, and yet when it comes to animals in the food industry or horseracing industry or research industry and many other industries, they don’t seem to count at all."