Ireland’s racing authorities and greyhound public will be preparing for an RTE expose this evening . Contrived from a report apparently prepared for the Irish Government, it is hard to see where or how the errors, glaring omissions or bad maths were interpreted writes Floyd Amphlett
Quoting from the report on which the RTE story is based: ” It said on average an estimated 5,987 greyhounds, which were available to race, were culled each year. The reasons for the cull were broken down as follows – “those who failed to produce qualifying times” (2,673); “failure to produce desired entry level times” (1,989) and an “unacceptable decline in performance” (1,326).”
Now after 47 years in the greyhound industry, I cannot pretend to make sense of any of this. These times – of which they speak – how to they relate to ‘culling’? Who made that leap?
Are we suggesting that because a greyhound didn’t record a qualifying time, it was destroyed? I have known of hundreds and hundreds of dogs who have been exported to sales and individuals in England who didn’t achieve qualifying times – often after only one trial – before being exported.
Some of the leading UK owners and trainers, Mark and Hayley Keightley, as examples, frequently unveil their future open race stars with blank Irish cards.
So how about an entirely different view on the figures? A view that doesn’t involve huge gaps and interpretation?
1) In 2017, Irish breeders registered 2,441 litters. Assuming that Irish greyhounds are very similar to English greyhounds (not a huge leap since 95% of British runners were Irish bred), those litters would have produced 15,280 pups. That is based on an average of 6.26 pups per litter.
2) Hundred of those pups would have died between birth and adulthood. In some cases complete litters would have been lost to due disease and infection. Many others would have been fatally injured while growing up – greyhound are reared ‘free range’ after all.
3) In 2018, GBGB registered 7,392 pups of which between 90-95% would have been Irish bred. That is heading for somewhere between 45-50% of the total. The numbers would have been small, but other hounds would have been exported to Continental Europe, Britain’s independent tracks, Australia, Pakistan, the USA etc. Many top breeders including the Dunphys, Ian Greaves and Liam Dowling would not consider putting their future broods on the track.
4) Where are the coursing dogs in this grand summary? There are hundreds of litters born every year, purely and specifically for hare coursing? Never destined to go on a track. Look at the dozens of meetings, held throughout the Irish winter leading up to the Clonmel Festival in February.
5) What about all the Irish runners who never make the trip abroad? Last week, Ireland staged 374 races, the majority containing six runners. Some of those dogs may not now get another race for the next two or three weeks and many will never leave Ireland.
Finally – it might be worth pointing out that Irish greyhound breeding is currently the lowest in more than 70 years. In 2018 the number of litters was down again to 2,344. Back in 2003, it was 4,827.
So RTE – why do you think the IGB didn’t want to take the report seriously – but surprise, surprise, – you do?
This is sensationalist bullsh!t, dressed up as journalism.
its the same doctoring of FACTS to support the writer .which British tracks and its followers have been subject to for years. they [irish]will have to stand up to the absolute lies and exasperations we as dog owners have endured for yonks. the tail of democracy definitely is wagged by the unelected media savvy anti greyhound movements. who always seem to get there way by lies exaggerations and more lies.oh and many twists of the truth.
IRISH GREYHOUND BOARD STATEMENT – RE RTE PROGRAMME
Following a special meeting of the Board of the Irish Greyhound Board today, the Board again condemned the illegal practices outlined in the Prime Time Investigates programme, broadcast on the 26th of June, 2019.
In the short term, the Board has immediately approved the following range of measures:
* Introduction of a greyhound injury support scheme to provide financial assistance to aid injured greyhounds to continue with a healthy life.
* Extending and increasing support under the IGB scheme for foster care of greyhounds to identify new foster homes within Ireland for greyhounds.
* Revision, in conjunction with the International Greyhound Welfare Forum, of the Code of Practice on the Care and Welfare of the Greyhound to address retirement and transportation of greyhounds.
* Financially incentivise the rehoming of greyhounds in Ireland through additional supports though the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust (which assisted in the rehoming of 1,021 greyhounds last year).
* Intensify its inspection regime of greyhound establishments (491 inspections were undertaken in 2018).
* Preparation of a statutory instrument to make it a legal requirement that euthanasia of a greyhound must be carried out by a veterinary practitioner. (this is already the standard expected under the IGB Code of Practice for the Care and Welfare of the Greyhound).
* Provision of the Code of Practice to all greyhound owners registered with the IGB and emphasise the requirement to fully comply with the standards expected.
* Progress the traceability provisions of the Greyhound Act 2019 though the establishing of a working group with the Irish Coursing Club (as keeper of the Stud Book) and industry representatives to devise a traceability model and a draft of the proposed statutory regulations.
* Establish a confidential Freephone line to enable reports of welfare breaches to be reported to the IGB for investigation by relevant agencies.
The Board has instructed that the Prime Time programme be reviewed in depth by the executive of the IGB to identify any actions that require to be followed up by the IGB. The Board will be seeking that RTE provides the IGB with all documented evidence gathered while researching the programme so that any breaches of the law can be pursued. The Board has also committed its full cooperation to other agencies and will provide whatever assistance is necessary in relation to any prosecutions.
The Board has also asked that an overall costed five year plan for the ‘care of the greyhound’ by devised for consideration by the National Greyhound Consultative Forum and for approval by the Board in the current year.
Chairman of the Irish Greyhound Board, Frank Nyhan, commented: “The actions evident by an irresponsible minority within the greyhound industry have no place in this sport and will not be tolerated. The IGB will continue to work with all agencies to ensure that such illegal activity is rooted out and those responsible are subject to prosecution for breaches of the law. Now that the Greyhound Racing Act 2019 has been finalised it is the Board’s clear intent to continue on its programme of further regulation within the sector.”
The Irish Greyhound Board notes the decision of Barrys Tea to discontinue their long-standing sponsorship at Curraheen Park Greyhound Stadium. We sincerely thank Barrys Tea for their sponsorship over the years in support of the greyhound community and all who are passionate about greyhound racing.
The IGB continues to engage with our sponsors on our strong commitment to the welfare of racing greyhounds, including an additional number of measures approved by the Board at a special meeting on Friday, June 28th, 2019.
The IGB is now arranging for the implementation of these schemes.
The welfare of greyhounds remains a priority for IGB and we will continue to build on the reforms within the sector over the last number of years.
Connolly's RED MILLS withdraws greyhound sponsorship..
Another firm has joined the growing list of companies to pull sponsorship from greyhound racing, in the wake of a recent broadcast about the industry by RTÉ Investigates.
The programme raised animal welfare issues relating to the overbreeding and subsequent treatment of greyhounds.
Connolly's RED MILLS, a leading manufacturer of animal feed products here, said it is clear that a number of cruel and unscrupulous practices are being pursued by individuals in the industry.
It said a failure to address these "unacceptable activities" has led to its decision.
"Connolly's RED MILLS prides itself in providing the best nutrition for pets, working animals and elite sports animals," it said.
"The welfare of greyhounds is of the utmost concern to Connolly's RED MILLS and the company is horrified by the completely unacceptable acts that were broadcast by RTÉ."
"No-one who cares about animals can condone the practices depicted in the broadcast," it added.
The company had sponsored greyhound race meetings and events and had been one of the bigger backers of dog racing.
The firm did not say how much its sponsorship of the industry was worth, but it is thought to be in region of €50,000 to €75,000 a year.
On Tuesday, two other well-known brands confirmed they were ending their involvement with greyhound races.
FBD Insurance said it had reviewed its small sponsorship arrangement with Kilkenny Greyhound Stadium in light of the programme and had decided not to renew it.
Barry's Tea also said it was withdrawing its support of a race at Curaheen Park in Cork, as it was "saddened and horrified" by the recent revelations.
Since the programme was broadcast, the Irish Greyhound Board has given a commitment to the welfare of racing greyhounds and it adopted additional measures at a special board meeting last week which it is now arranging the implementation of.
Meanwhile, the Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation has issued a statement to say the programme "sent shockwaves through the country" but that opportunities to improve the sport should have been taken sooner.
"[The IGOBF] strongly believe that if there is going to be a commercial greyhound industry in Ireland then it must have the highest standards of greyhound welfare with all retired dogs re-homed.
"We also believe that this can and must be done without any Government funding. We have consistently made this point to IGB and Government over the last 10 years but have always been dismissed," it said.
The statement added that three years ago the IGOBF called for action on greyhound welfare, improved integrity and financial management in the industry but these matters were not addressed.
In a letter to Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, IGOBF chairman Tony Walsh said the measures announced by the IGB following a special board meeting on 28 June were too late.
"The IGOBF welcomes the range of aids and measures announced by IGB on June 28 to assist with rehoming. These are normal measures, certainly nothing extraordinary and.. very weak on detail.
"[But] why were these measures not put in place before the RTÉ Investigates programme?," he said.
Hopefully anyone who cares about the future of greyhound racing will never buy a bag of Red Mills ever again. Their short sightedness should cost them a lot more than their sponsorship. It would be worth the horse racing community considering their position as well, as throwing greyhound racing under the bus will only hasten the focus on them and their 'problems'.
The Irish Greyhound Owners And Breeders Federation representing Galway, Kerry, Limerick and Clare, Northern (Brandywell and Drumbo), Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford Greyhound Owners and Breeders Associations unreservedly condemns animal cruelty and illegal practices and we expect the highest standards of welfare for greyhounds at all times. However we do not accept that the vast majority of greyhound owners and indeed the wider greyhound industry were not portrayed in a fair and balanced light in the RTE Investigates programme which was broadcast last week. The programme contained many inaccuracies and omissions and it also featured stories of cruelty that happened over a decade ago and also horrendous stories of cruelty that did not even happen in Ireland. In our opinion it was a programme that was heavily biased towards the Animal Extremist agenda. Our dogs come first. This is our mantra, our way of thinking, our heritage, our life and our reason to get up in the morning. Greyhound people will not be found wanting. The IGOBF intends to work closely with trainers, stud keepers, transporters, greyhound vets and rehoming groups and we are already in the process of bringing forward new welfare/rehoming initiatives to our Irish Greyhound Board. In the coming weeks we expect a massive Anti campaign to try and blacken the good name of all greyhound owners. Indeed Maureen O’ Sullivan, Independent T.D. has already kicked it off when she claimed; “The majority of greyhound owners are abusive towards animals “ How wrong she is! The greyhound people are the salt of the earth and love their greyhounds like family. We urge all greyhound owners to speak well of our sport. Stand up for our heritage and do not allow the Antis the opportunity to gain ground with their shaming and bullying tactics. We can fix the problems and we will fix them together.
Ni neart go chur le cheile (Unity is strength)
Pat O’Neill Chairperson of the Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation Theresa Holohan Vice Chairperson, Helen Morris Secretary, Al Hanley Treasurer and Padjoe Dorney PRO.
Hatchet job sadly had easy targets to aim for......
BY PAUL BROWN OF THE RACING POST
EVERYBODY knew what was coming when news first floated the other week of a forthcoming programme on Irish channel RTE with the title ‘Greyhounds Running For Their Lives’, but it didn’t make it any easier to watch the sport being dragged through the mud when it aired.
Those unfamiliar with the greyhound world would have been horrified by the programme, which clearly had no intention of showing any balance and simply painted as poor a picture of Irish greyhound racing as it possibly could.
It started off reasonably enough before disintegrating into the usual sensationalist material designed simply to distress the viewer, but it can’t be argued that everything is squeaky clean judging by some of the revelations.
It was jaw-dropping to hear that one well-known Irish handler’s premises had been raided three times last year by the authorities, and that the haul of illicit drugs obtained during those raids accounted for half of all seizures over a three-year period.
The fact the trainer remains operating would suggest all was not as clear-cut there as the programme alleged, but you still have to wonder what the IGB has been doing if there is even some truth to it.
The descent from investigation to shock tactics saw horrifying footage of dogs being mistreated, butchered and even thrown alive into boiling water, but this was old stuff, I believe from China, that’s been circulating online for years.
It’s abhorrent, yes, but as things stand there are no government rules on either side of the Irish Sea preventing anyone sending greyhounds to this hellhole for animal welfare, and until there is it is sadly a matter for the consciences of those who do it.
If making a few euros or pounds is that important to those who partake in this evil trade then I wonder how they sleep at night.
The fallout from the show has notably seen Red Mills withdraw its sponsorship, following on from Barrys Tea pulling out of its long-running backing at Curraheen, while the anti-greyhound lobby is clearly gunning for the multi-million euros Irish government subsidy the industry receives.
It remains to be seen whether pragmatism – 10,000 jobs are said to be directly and indirectly dependant on the greyhound sector supported via the subsidy – trumps the screaming of the antis.
Britain of course had already seen its own horror show with the Seaham scandal exposed by the Sunday Times in 2006, and the GBGB was almost put up as a role-model for Ireland in the RTE assault.
The GBGB has certainly put welfare front and centre in recent years, and although there is still much scope for improvement Britain probably is ahead of the curve compared to Ireland.
Irish and British anti organisations are clearly emboldened nowadays, however, and it’s not hard to see how a hatchet job could be put together on British greyhound racing by a similarly-motivated TV producer. The fact remains there is work to be done.
That, though, doesn’t give licence to some of the disgraceful behaviour of the antis. Along with many others, I resent being accused of being an animal abuser and murderer simply because I cherish a sport that, remember, is legal.
Driving into Nottingham for Derby final night, there was the usual ragtag army of banner-waving antis shouting at all who were entering, and what particularly irks me is the fact they seem to think they have a monopoly when it comes to doing the right thing by greyhounds.
Their sense that they are best placed to decide what’s for the best and actually care more than an owner or trainer is ludicrous, and points more to their know-all mentality than anything else.
I’ve written before that just from the point of view of looking after what is invariably an expensive purchase, why would any owner or trainer not ensure their dogs had the best of everything?
It was refreshing to see Mark Bird this week knock down the frankly ludicrous argument from Clarissa Baldwin of the Greyhound Forum that the Derby should have been called off due to the warm weather, but it is another illustration that, as stated, the antis are now emboldened, even one apparently as reasonable as Baldwin.
The Irish saga has shown that if anyone gives them fuel to pour on any fire, they will most surely do so.