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Almost 6,000 greyhounds killed in Ireland every year, new RTÉ documentary reveals

The programme also revealed cases of unregulated hare coursing in Cork.

Stock photo of greyhound track.
Stock photo of greyhound track.
Image: Shutterstock/Irma07

ALMOST 6,000 GREYHOUNDS were killed for not racing fast enough in 2017, a new RTÉ investigation claims.

The RTÉ documentary, to be broadcast after the 9 o’clock news tonight, claims that in 2017 a consultancy firm was paid €115,000 to carry out a review of the industry on behalf of the Irish Greyhound Board. 

The report itself was only circulated to the Minister for Agriculture last month,while the Public Accounts Committee’s request for it to be released received a response saying it was too commercially sensitive to be released. 

The review found 16,000 greyhounds are born every year. It found that 5,987 of those are killed because they fail to make qualification times or their performance declines. 

The authors of the review also proposed reforms for greyhound racing, which the documentary claims weren’t adopted by the industry.

Chief executive of the Irish Greyhound Board Gerard Dollard told the documentary:

“I accept there is an issue in relation to unaccounted-for dogs. I think the figures that are being thrown out are, in fact, well in excess of what the actual figure is because of a number of exports to the UK and elsewhere.”

RTÉ journalists contacted knackeries across Ireland, some of which reportedly said they would shoot dogs who were not performing to desired levels, for as little as €10.

Dr Andrew Kelly of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) told the programme: “We believe there’s a large gap in which thousands of puppies that are born, they are never registered, simply disappear.”

Hare coursing

The programme also raises concerns for the prevalence of illegal hare coursing in Ireland. 

Coursing is a hunting sport in which greyhounds are trained in the technique of chasing and turning a hare. 

Many countries have banned live hare coursing as a blood sport. However, live hare coursing is not illegal in Ireland – one of just a handful of countries, along with the US, which still allows it. 

The Irish Coursing Club (ICC) is responsible for overseeing the sport in Ireland and claimed all members of the ICC followed regulations, which include them protecting hares.

The documentary, however, claimed there were illegal and unregulated coursing events taking place on Whiddy Island off Bantry, in west Cork. 

It also claims some greyhounds were being administered illegal drugs to enhance performance. 

Veterinary surgeon, Finbarr Heslin said: “We see dogs who come in and they’ve had so much EPO pumped into them that their blood is like treacle”. 

Greyhound racing is set to receive €16.8 million in funding this year with supports coming from the Department of Agriculture. 

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