Greyhounds – racing for their lives?


Sir, – Gerard Dollard, chief executive of the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB), has stated its motto is, “We love our greyhounds and we care for them” (“Greyhound board investing ¤12 million to upgrade stadium and develop sport”, News, March 12th).

It is difficult to correlate this assertion with the life of the average greyhound. From 2010 to 2016, approximately 120,126 greyhounds were born in Ireland. Some 108,372 were formally named at the racing age of 13 months . These figures are calculated using the 20,021 registered litters allowing an average of six pups per litter, but the litters can often be eight or 10 pups. What happens the thousands of pups that didn’t make the grade?

For the ones that go on to race, generally around four or five years old they are regarded as too slow. Every year thousands are “retired”, which is an euphemism for a far different reality. They are known as the “disappeared dogs”, either put down, exported from Ireland often, via the UK or Europe, but far too many end up in China, Pakistan and Spain, where they are subjected to a most cruel and barbaric end. Rescue centres work tirelessly to give these dogs a lifeline, but due to lack of funds, spaces and homes, sadly only hundreds not thousands are saved and rehomed, usually abroad. For the remaining thousands, their lives are cut short far too soon.

Since 2010, the IGB has received €99.6 million in State funding, but contrast that amount to the funds allocated to their programme for retired greyhounds. In 2015, the IGB received €13.6 million, yet the fund for retired greyhounds received €225,000. It is ironic that the dogs who generate so much money for the industry appear to be of so little consequence when their days at done at the tracks.

I hope that the falloff in numbers attending the greyhound tracks is attributable to the recognition and awareness of people that greyhound racing is cruel.

When they are no longer fit for purpose, for the majority of these dogs, their fate is death either at home or abroad. These loyal hounds synonymous with our Celtic history deserve better. – Yours, etc,