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Pity the greyhound that’s too old or too slow

I READ with disbelief the letter from Barry Coleman of the Irish Greyhound Board (December 4) where he refutes the points raised by Alan Stewart on the treatment of Irish greyhounds (Irish Examiner, November 30).

According to Mr Coleman the welfare of the greyhound is of paramount importance to owners, trainers and the industry.

If this is so, perhaps he might like to explain what happens to the thousands of greyhounds that have passed their “sell-by date” generally at the age of four or five.

It is estimated that approximately 8,000 greyhounds “retire” annually. How often do you see an old greyhound? Animal welfare rescues, while doing their very best, cannot possibly put a significant dent in that number. Obviously thousands of them are put down. The “lucky ones” are humanely euthanised.

Sadly, far too many of them are subjected to death by starvation, mutilation of ears, drowned or shot. When it comes to having a greyhound as a pet we are not as enlightened as our European neighbours. Most greyhound rescues in Britain are overflowing with Irish greyhounds.

Every year thousands of litters of greyhound pups are born. Assuming there are five or six pups in each litter this equates to tens of thousands of pups. In reality, very few of these make the grade. A huge percentage of these young greyhounds are deemed too slow and subsequently doomed to die. Greyhound racing is a commercial business — while the greyhounds run and make money, they live. When they stop being profitable, they die — too often in the most inhumane way.

I am sure there are owners — sadly in the minority — who care for their racing dogs. However, the reality for too many greyhounds, as the statistics would indicate, is a shortlived existence where injury or lack of speed guarantees certain death.

Sara O’Donovan



Co Cork


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