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Blooding greyhounds

The current investigation by Gardai into a greyhound blooding incident in a Dublin park is a numbing reminder that the practice continues despite being highly illegal.

Blooding involves the feeding of live hares, rabbits or kittens to greyhounds in order to psyche them up prior to racing and coursing meetings.

It is a deplorable act of violence which every right-thinking citizen would unreservedly condemn.

What many may not know, however, is that it's believed to be a common occurrence in the Irish greyhound industry.

Blooding has been flagged over the years by racing scene journalist, John Martin, who is on record as saying that "the bald truth is that greyhound racing would not continue to exist without blooding [and] it follows that, with a constant greyhound population of close on 30,000, blooding must be widespread".

While this blooding of greyhounds is illegal, the blooding of foxhounds remains within the boundaries of our desperately outdated legislation.

Before the start of every foxhunting season, packs of inexperienced hounds are brought to fox earths and goaded into attacking and ripping apart defenceless cubs.

The ladies and gents of the hunt euphemistically refer to this as "autumn hunting"; the rest of us regard it as barbarity unbefitting a civilised nation.

The squeals and screams at the scenes of blooding sessions are a testament to the fact that whatever the victim, the suffering is immense.

The law urgently needs to reflect this and recognise as criminals all who perpetrate this merciless cruelty.