By Emma Butler
Watching the TV documentary that aired in Ireland last week – RTÉ Investigates: Greyhounds Running for Their Lives – I had mixed feelings. There was the feeling of absolute revulsion at what I was watching. But then there was also a feeling of relief that this abhorrent abuse of greyhounds was at last being exposed in such a public way that surely it could only lead to improvements in greyhound welfare.
The programme reported that thousands of dogs lost their lives because their performance didn’t meet the required standard. Specifically, 5,987 greyhounds were slaughtered in 2017, with many of them killed at knackeries and with some shot in bulk and not euthanised by veterinary practitioners.
In addition, the documentary uncovered revelations of doping and horrific abuse and neglect.
The shockwaves from the documentary have resulted in calls for industry reform. Three well-known businesses, Barry’s Tea, FBD Insurance and Red Mills, have already announced they are ending their sponsorship of greyhound races and have urged the industry to improve their animal welfare. Other sponsors and bookmakers have also come under pressure to end their funding of the racing industry.
Irish State support for the racing industry has also come under increased scrutiny. The Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) is set to receive 16.8million Euros from the department of agriculture this year, and a parliamentary committee on agriculture has ordered the IGB, along with the Irish Coursing Club, to appear at a hearing next week to discuss reforms.
It’s not just greyhound racing in Ireland that has come under increased criticism in recent weeks. Last month the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) published figures showing at least 828 British racing greyhounds were killed last year with 4,963 recorded injuries. This data doesn’t even include the deaths and injuries from the unregistered or flapping tracks. And it shouldn’t be overlooked that a significant number of greyhounds racing in the UK were bred in Ireland.
Forever Hounds Trust is completely dedicated to improving the welfare of greyhounds and with mounting evidence that greyhound racing is not a safe sport for the dogs forced to participate, plus the withdrawal of funds from sponsors, we hope that the tide is turning in favour of a phasing out of this cruel sport across the UK and Ireland.