The greyhound industry launched a fightback against what it claims is an aggressive campaign to distort and damage its reputation.
The industry – in the form of a video documentary series – aims to highlight the value of the industry to the Irish agri-sport economy and the welfare work being done by Irish dog owners.
The sector, it says, is worth €300m to the Irish economy. It also underlines the individuals who are devoted to the industry ranging from Cork GAA great Jimmy Barry-Murphy to racing enthusiast John Kenny and famous trainers Pat Guilfoyle and Denis Fitzgerald.
The campaign was unveiled after the industry was left reeling by a series of allegations about dog welfare, cullings and exports.
Last November, the Social Democrats failed to get a Dáil motion passed seeking to end State funding of the greyhound industry.
Cork TD Holly Cairns said she was "flabbergasted" by the extent of State funding for the sector. “I could never understand how public money was pumped into a loss-making industry," she said.
Animal welfare groups including Greyhound Action Ireland (GAI) queried how the State can justify increased funding of €19.2m for the sector in 2021/22, despite the widespread concerns over the treatment of dogs.
However, Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation (IGOBF) Chairman Damian Matthews said what the industry and individual owners had been subjected to over recent times was deeply unfair.
“The welfare of our greyhounds is paramount above everything else in our sport amongst our thousands of members from the time the pups are born to when they retire in our homes, or are rehomed to new caring owners," he said.
"This campaign addresses recent high profile misrepresentations portrayed unfairly in the media and shows exactly how the greyhounds we love are reared, fed, trained and cared for during their racing careers and in their retirement.
"The videos show how greyhounds love to race and are bred to run but they also are amazing pets and give back so much to their owners. We will be releasing one new video a week across all our social media channels using the hashtag #OurGreyhoundsOurLives and we hope that the fair-minded people in our society will judge our industry from them.”
Around 12,500 jobs are supported throughout the rural economy by the greyhound industry with an economic spin-off of around €300m each year.
The IGOBF launched the campaign as "it was felt there was a strong need to correct the distortion of facts about greyhound racing from recent misrepresentative attacks which have greatly hurt the greyhound community – the vast majority of whom care for their dogs with the highest welfare standards."
Owners slated recent criticism as "aggressive and unfair".