Sunday 18 August 2019

Time has run out for greyhound racing industry

Lay of the Land

'The IGB now receives €16.8m a year, while 6,000 dogs are killed or go missing in that time frame. The IGB questions that 6,000 figure - as do those dumping grounds known as animal rescues, run by folk whose taxes support the very industry that relentlessly overwhelms them. They believe the number is closer to 10,000.' (stock photo)
'The IGB now receives €16.8m a year, while 6,000 dogs are killed or go missing in that time frame. The IGB questions that 6,000 figure - as do those dumping grounds known as animal rescues, run by folk whose taxes support the very industry that relentlessly overwhelms them. They believe the number is closer to 10,000.' (stock photo)

Fiona O'Connell

It's over seven years since I wrote here about seeing two cowering greyhounds being thrown into the river in this country town. At the time I noted that the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) received €11m in state funding that year.

"Nearly 900 greyhounds ended up in state pounds in 2010, where two thirds were killed," I went on. "Even euthanasia is too big a price to pay for some dogs that have run the living daylights out of themselves. The bodies of six greyhounds shot and dumped in a quarry earlier this year caused a sensation. Sadly, it's the norm."

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

The IGB responded, claiming "the most stringent guidelines and laws" - so "be assured", as they "steadfastly uphold and maintain the highest standards of duty and care".

Some things have changed since then: the IGB now receives €16.8m a year, while 6,000 dogs are killed or go missing in that time frame. The IGB questions that 6,000 figure - as do those dumping grounds known as animal rescues, run by folk whose taxes support the very industry that relentlessly overwhelms them. They believe the number is closer to 10,000.

But things have changed again, after RTE Investigates on the greyhound industry horrified over half a million viewers at home and worldwide as they watched a greyhound defecate in fear before being dragged off and shot in the head, writhing in agony as his owner waited in his car to get the collar back to use on a new dog.

It's why Tony Walsh, formerly of the Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation, was so disgusted by the drugs, doping and treatment of dogs that he gave it up.

And record numbers have protested at racing tracks throughout Ireland; from Longford to Mullingar (site of the highest number of greyhound mortalities), Curraheen to Shelbourne Park. There is also palpable anger at the professed shock of the government and industry, given that the programme showed attempts by both to conceal information.

Almost as horrifying as the sight of a greyhound being boiled alive was all the barefaced liars. From hard-voiced men and women who kill dogs every day - some killing "in bulk" - to well-known trainers, big breeders and coursing club officials: all displaying utter contempt for integrity and the truth.

So little wonder that the last sighting of "moral duty" was in a breeding facility in China. Moral Duty being the name of a beautiful black greyhound that was one of the fastest of 2010.

Moral Duty made his owners lots of money. But clearly not enough. No one knows where he is now.

"Lots of dogs go off the radar as they get moved around," says Rita James, founder of Caged Nationwide. "So they will never be saved."

But the IGB assures us that they can fix everything.

Just like they did seven years ago.

Don't walk away. Run.

Sunday Independent

Editors Choice

Also in Life