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.