Statement of the Greyhound Forum and its affiliated Facebook groups on the latest events in Ireland.
Initially, we would like to explain why it took us so long to write this. After the initial shock - and we do not think we have to explicitly state that some of the footage has shocked us or that we, as German greyhound owners did not know about some of the things that were shown - we have tried to do some research and verify the claims, accusations and figures. Barring some details, we have mostly succeeded in doing this.
The content of the business analysis for the IGB that was produced by Preferred Results Ltd in 2017 is a hot topic. Obviously, we don’t have precise figures but we can tell that the material used for the analysis does not show a complete picture. Anyone looking at the methods and source material as described by RTE themselves and doing a rough calculation, should also come to that conclusion. However, this statistic has been shared in many outraged statements and is often interpreted wrongly. We would like to assume that this happened in the spur of the moment rather than with the intention to further a specific political agenda.
Bear with us; we now have to do some maths:
According to RTE the base for any calculations has been the number of litters registered with the ICC Studbook. This number has been multiplied by 6.5 which is the average number of pups per litter as published by the GBGB for Britain. Yes, you are reading correctly, they didn’t count the actual pups registered and earmarked, but instead took British figures to estimate the total of Irish-born greyhounds. The IGB itself states an average of 6 pups per litter.
Even then, it’s not 16k pups per year as frequently stated, but 15.280. Of course, it is perfectly fine to use round numbers - we have been taught in school that one rounds to the nearest round number which makes 15k.
This 15k should contain registered pups bred for racing and coursing. The second key number used is the number of dogs registered for racing with the IGB. Coursing-bred dogs are usually not registered for racing - why should they be? Also deducted from the initial 15k should be greyhounds registered with the GBGB (7392). To make that clear, those dogs are not overproduction or ‘left-overs’ but dogs bred for the UK racing market. The majority of greyhounds racing in the UK are Irish-born. It remains unclear if exports in other countries for racing or breeding purposes that have been given so-called export pedigrees, have been taken into account i.e. direct sales to Continental Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand and a number of other countries.
Some of these other countries may include those with unacceptable or no animal welfare regulations. Exports into such countries need to be regulated or banned by law. The IGB can take various actions against its members selling dogs into suspicious countries. These include fines or suspensions, but banning such exports by law can only be put into effect by the government.
To allow an easy comparison we are adding the current figures for 2018 published by the IGB:
2344 litters x app. 6 pups =14.064
Irish racing pool: 3.600
English racing pool: 6.500
Coursing: 318 litters x app. 6 pups per litter = 1.908
5% natural death rate of pups: 700
13.708 Greyhounds accounted for.
Neither the source material used by Preferred Results/RTE nor the official figures from the IGB take into consideration any dogs exported to EU countries in small amounts (<6 per vehicle) by private citizens for non-racing or breeding purposes. These dogs do not need export pedigrees issued by the IGB or official export/transport papers. All that is required to cross an EU border is the pet passport that proves a valid rabies vaccination. The data from such passports is not registered at the border. This concerns not only dogs sold as pets, but also small private transports by animal rescue people who do not comply with the IRGT, or foreign adopters who collect their greyhounds directly from an Irish kennel or shelter. If the rehoming group or individual animal protection people do not inform the IRGT about a successful rehoming abroad those dogs are gone, unaccounted for and cannot be traced in the source material used for the report.
Also considered unaccounted for are any hounds that were never registered for racing with the IGB but nevertheless remained with their breeders or owners, and greyhounds that remain with their breeders, owners or trainers after the end of their racing careers or those rehomed with friends or relatives. If not officially registered as rehomed, the dog is gone.
Of course, it is rather stupid of the good folks in the racing community not to inform the IGB/IRTG of such private rehoming’s, but it is very common practice. As a decent, normal dog-loving person it would probably not occur to you that you need to inform anyone about the fact that you are keeping your own dogs.
The IGB and the ICC have, in consultation with the Irish Department of Agriculture decided to take measures for keeping track of every Irish-born greyhound from birth to death - about time in our opinion!
Until this new tracking system is set up - it is scheduled to start in September - the Greyhound Data has offered to step in and help by updating the profiles and adding as many of the unaccounted-for dogs as possible.
These dogs are now coming in from various sources and some of them are appearing in the records for the first time since their birth. Many are living or have lived with their racing owners, trainers or breeders in Ireland. Others are living or have lived with greyhound lovers all over Europe who were not fully aware of the importance of keeping track of change of ownership or who were not able to update their dogs’ profiles at the Greyhound Data themselves because of insufficient English language skills.
A number of rehoming organisations that in the past did not update their rehomed dogs simply due to lack of time are now passing on the data to volunteers who are doing the updates for them.
Other rehoming organisations still refuse to cooperate because they do not see it as their job to help the racing industry solve the issue of missing greyhounds. We want to tell them that reliable records will make it a lot easier to find and hold responsible those breeders, racing owners and trainers who have culled healthy dogs for no good reason as they will be unable to hide behind the majority of decent, responsible people in the industry.
In the end, it is a decision everyone who really cares about greyhound welfare has to make for themselves.
Finally, to conclude the topic of the Preferred Results report, we would like to add a quote from said report:
“-What happens to some 6000 pups per year remains to be explained.
- While not officially recognised there have been many reports in the media and elsewhere of the large-scale culling of under-performing dogs.
- It is important to clarify and to quantify the level of culling which may exist due to the fact that from an animal rights perspective it could threaten the very existence of the industry and from a cost perspective it could do likewise.
- To determine whether there is in fact an issue with the culling of under-performing dogs the following analysis were conducted;
RMS Entry Grade Analysis 2009
RMS Exit Grade Analysis 2009”
Summarising, the report does not state as a fact that the 6000 that remained unaccounted for based on the available records have been culled. They only assume this because of past reports in the media and elsewhere (the internet?). - Any questions?
The following points need to be made about the journalistic quality of the RTE program:
RTE reports that The Greyhound Industry receives government funding - i.e. taxpayers’ money. They insinuate that money comes from general taxes paid by every person in Ireland including those opposed to racing. This has been frequently repeated in statements and comment on the program but is incorrect. The funding actually comes from the 3% betting levy paid by bookmakers. This 3% amounts to approximately €80 million, of which €64 million goes into horse racing and the remaining €16 million into the Greyhound Racing Industry. This money is not taken from the pockets of the general public but from people betting on horses and dogs.
Some of the footage shown on the program was up to 12 years old - were there not any more recent examples available?
Fortunately, the Irish Racing Industry has made some progress and improvements over the last decade.
The vet who was interviewed as an expert on doping in greyhound racing is in a relationship with RTE employee - were no independent experts available?
The vet recalls several cases of heavily doped dogs being brought to his surgery, but he fails to mention when these incidents occurred or if they were reported. Since 2005 no dog has tested positive for EPO during official tests by the IGP.
RTE Investigates showed video footage from an allegedly illegal coursing and names one of the participants as an ICC official. It was explicitly stated at a council meeting of the Department of Agriculture that this event was perfectly legal. It did not comply with the ICC rules for official contests but had been sanctioned by the local authorities.
In replies to letters and emails inquiring about the shocking video from the knackery, RTE Investigates stated that the footage was recorded by an automatic camera they set up and that they only saw how the four greyhounds died when they viewed the footage about a week later. The video had most likely been recorded several months before the airing of the program. RTE did not explain why the issue was not immediately reported to the police and why important evidence such as images showing vehicle number plates were not handed over to the authorities. Without such evidence, it is considerably more difficult to identify the culprits and put them to trial.
Another question that needs to be asked in connection with these horrible images is whether dogs of other working breeds were brought to the knackery, along with greyhounds during the recorded time span. There has been no statement from RTE about this, although the answer would be important to determine if the abominable practice of dumping a dog at a knackery is solely a problem of the Racing Industry or a more general issue with Irish working dogs. The question is by no means far-fetched - what happens to old, sick, injured collies, lurchers, pointers or retrievers?
Having said all this, the admins and moderators of the Greyhound Forum and its affiliated Facebook groups do not see a reason to reconsider their attitude towards the Racing Industry. We will continue our personal and working relationships with members of the Irish racing community and use our connections to investigate animal welfare issues brought to our attention as and when necessary. We firmly believe that only through such cooperation can improvement in the welfare of our beloved greyhounds be achieved.
We have been glad to hear about all the recent improvements in regulations, such as the earlier mention of a lifelong tracking system, the fund for injuries and the promised improvements in rehoming procedures and funding. We will keep reminding our contacts in Ireland that those new rules and programs should be established in a timely manner.
Finally, a few words to the IGB:
The recent decisions are a significant improvement but they are overdue. The handling of the Preferred Results report by the Board if not abysmally stupid, was awkward. The majority of dedicated members of the Irish racing community who care for their dogs with love and expertise, deserve better from the administrative body of their sport, e.g. timely and honest statements and the admission of past mistakes. The public, not only in Ireland and the United Kingdom but also in Continental Europe and the rest of the world, will keep a critical watch on the development in Ireland.
This is a guest area. It serves to provide interesting articles from and about Greyhounds, without a registration in the forum. / Dies ist ein Gästebereich. Er dient dazu, interessante Berichte von und über Greyhounds zur Verfügung zu stellen, ohne eine Registrierung im Forum.
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