Listeners to RTE's 'Liveline' this week will have been shocked by the graphic account of cruelty given by a caller who witnessed blooding of greyhounds with live rabbits.
This practice is widespread in Ireland, and an integral part of both greyhound racing and hare coursing. Trainers are keenly aware that a dog is likely to perform better on the track or coursing field if it savages a still live rabbit, hare or cat. The taste of blood is deemed to give it an edge over competitors.
The trainer ties the animal to a pole, and waits until the dog has been whipped up into a frenzy of bloodlust before releasing it to attack the terrified captive. Or the animal's back legs are broken so that the dog catches it within seconds and rips it apart.
Blooding is especially cruel when applied to a cat, because it has tougher skin than a rabbit or hare and takes much longer to expire. Family pets that mysteriously disappear may end up in the hands of these unscrupulous trainers, so cat owners should be vigilant.
Callan, Co Kilkenny