Greyhound racing in Ireland turned from a national tradition to a national disgrace in 60 minutes last week.
The RTE Investigates tv programme (caution: graphic images) revealed the dark side of greyhound racing in Ireland when it presented a report the Irish Greyhound Board had commissioned and kept secret since 2017 because it was considered commercially sensitive. The programme showed that 6,000 greyhounds are culled per annum. The reasons for the cull were broken down into: “those who failed to produce qualifying times” (2,673); “failure to produce desired entry level times” (1,989) and an “unacceptable decline in performance” (1,326).
Irish Greyhound Board is a semi-state body and receives an annual government subsidy to the tune of €16.8m. An Irish Examiner article sets the issue out in very clear terms: In Ireland “sick children don’t benefit from ring-fenced taxation. Neither do people with mental health challenges, nor elderly people, nor homeless people. Nobody does, in fact, except horses and greyhounds”.
The report behind the RTE programme revealed how greyhounds are sold to the UK at 50% of the cost of producing the greyhound puppies. This means the Irish taxpayer is subsidising the ‘product’ being sold to the UK at a loss. Thereby making the ‘cheap product’ affordable to the UK customers. Surely when the prices go up to remedy the Irish losses, the UK clients will feel the pinch.
The atrocities shown in the RTE programme brought Irish people out onto the streets to demonstrate outside local tracks. It catalysed a torrent of letters, tweets and emails complaining to Irish Government officials. The heart rending footage led to discussions in the Irish Parliament, a petition calling for government subsidies to be discontinued and moved Barry’s Tea, Treacy’s Hotel, FBD Insurance and Connolly’s RED MILLS (a leading manufacturer of animal feed products in Ireland) to withdraw from sponsorship agreements. Others may follow.
Although horrific, this has to be a major step in the demise of greyhound racing.
Join campaigners in demanding an end to the Irish Government’s massive grants to the greyhound industry – €16.8 million for 2019, bringing to around a quarter of a billion euros the amount handed over since 2001. This must be ended. Contact Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe now.
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar
Upper Merrion St, Dublin 2
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Paschal Donohoe TD
Minister for Finance
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The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) has published the 2018 end of life and injury figures for racing greyhounds. This is the second year for which data has been put in the public domain. Over the last two years 2,032 greyhounds have died in the hands of the industry (499 on the racetrack). Many greyhounds were killed for ‘economic reasons’, in 2018 175 were destroyed because of high treatment costs, and 144 were labelled as having ‘no viable option’ away from the racecourse.
The 2018 figures show how and why the greyhound died or was put down:
242 euthanised trackside on ‘humane grounds’
324 for whom treatment was deemed too expensive, there was ‘no viable option’ away from the racecourse or no home was found.
190 were killed due to being ‘unsuitable for homing’
72 died from ‘sudden death’
There were 4,963 injuries (out of 426,139 dog runs) in 2018 (4,837 injuries out of 419,385 dog runs in 2017. The graphs below display the Greyhound Board of Great Britain’s 2017 and 2018 data. Over the two years some of the category labels have changed: In the 2018 dataset the GBGB introduced numbers for dogs going to independent racing (“flapping”) and re-grouped some of the end of life headings, introducing “No Viable Option Away from Racecourse”.
The injuries and deaths suffered by greyhounds, who are companion animals and sentient beings, are egregious and have no place in our society. The published data fails to present the total number of greyhounds racing (widely estimated to be 14,000 at any one time) does not include the “saplings” who fail to make the grade, and omits the GBGB acknowledged “dog clog” considered to stand at 5,000 greyhounds.