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6,000 Greyhounds Are Killed In Ireland Every Year

6,000 Greyhounds Are Killed In Ireland Every Year

An RTE investigation claims that nearly 6,000 greyhounds are killed in Ireland every year, because they are not fast enough to race.

RTÉ Investigates: Greyhounds, Running for Their Lives, is set to air tonight (26 June) at 9.35pm on RTÉ One and it claims that in 2017, a consultancy firm was paid €115,000 to carry out a business analysis report on behalf of the Irish Greyhound Board.

Of 16,000 greyhounds born each year, 5,987 are put down, because they fail to meet qualification requirements, or they decline in performance. There are 1,000% more pups bred than are necessary for racing needs.

The report was circulated to the Minister for Agriculture last month, and last week, the Public Accounts Committee was told that it was too commercially sensitive to release.

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.”

RTE also contacted knackeries across the country. 30 licensed knackeries were contacted, half of them said they would kill greyhounds for between €10 and €35. The Department of Agriculture licences and policies knackeries, officially known as Category 2 Intermediate plants. The Department told the programme:

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"Dogs, including greyhounds, are classified as a Category 1 animal and cannot enter a Category 2 plant, dead or alive. Euthanasia of greyhounds or other animals… is not approved."

One knackery said that they shoot dogs in bulk, with undercover filming by RTE showing that four greyhounds were killed in a matter of days.

Dr Andrew Kelly of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) said:

"We believe there’s a large gap in which thousands of puppies that are born, they are never registered, simply disappear."

The documentary also examines illegal hare coursing in Ireland, and the issue of doping in greyhound racing. Finbarr Heslin, veterinary surgeon, said that "we see dogs who come in and they’ve had so much EPO (a hormone) pumped into them that their blood is like treacle".

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Joe O'Gorman

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