Friday 21 May 2021

The growth in the decline of welfare


Rásaíocht Con Éireann(RCE)/Greyhound Racing Ireland(GRI)

welcome a pitiful fine for a welfare case

 involving twelve greyhounds from one owner.

GRI CEO, Ger Dollard, yet again, cites there is a 'priority of maintaining animal welfare at the centre of the industry'  - following the conviction and €1000 fine(with €5,682 costs)of Kieran O'Donnell, Co. Sligo, for welfare breaches involving twelve greyhounds.

The case dates back to GRI welfare inspections in  November/December 2019 where GRI seized the twelve greyhounds, and working in conjunction with the, industry-run, Irish Retired Greyhound Trust, eight were homed. The greyhounds were found in 'extremely poor condition'.

Under the Greyhound Racing Act 2019(still to be implemented)'Conditions of office of members of board' 9(3) show a GRI board member 'ceases to hold office if convicted of an offence involving cruelty to an animal or relating to animal welfare'. A similar call was made, by greyhound welfare/rehoming charities, during the drafting of the 2019 Act to include that greyhound owners/trainers/breeders should be banned following welfare convictions but those calls were rejected - instead just pitiful fines continue under relevant Regulations of the 2011 Act.


Slipalong Pearl - last raced May 2019 - continues to be registered as owned by Kieran O'Donnell, Co. Sligo. 

Is this incompetence(again)on GRI's traceability? Did O'Donnell sell Slipalong Pearl and fail to adhere to Welfare Of Greyhounds Act 2011 Transfer of ownership regulations? Does Slipalong Pearl continue to live on the premises of O'Donnell?

Along with these questions for GRI, a further question the public would want to see answered - following yet another announcement from the industry that there is a 'priority of maintaining animal welfare at the centre of the industry' - is, why are welfare inspections declining?

Following IGS showing in March 2021 the decline in welfare inspections for the year 2020, GRI have finally updated their records for 2020

2020 shows the industry conducted lowest number of welfare inspections since 2015. Alarmingly, 2021, so far, shows a further, dramatic, decline in welfare inspections. 

From January to March 2020, there were 219 welfare inspections(Jan - 95, Feb - 92 and March - 32).

From January to March 2021, there were 53 welfare inspections(Jan - 19, Feb -19 and March - 15).

While greyhounds continue to be used for racing/breeding/selling during the covid-19 pandemic, the GRI argument that covid-19 has limited the industry being able to carry out welfare inspections - causing inspection declines - is laughable.

December 2020 DAFM Minister, Charlie McConalogue, defending the funding for the industry, told the Dáil there were 7,313 active greyhound owners. GRI show there were 571 welfare inspections for 2016. This would mean that less than eight percent of owners were inspected - a figure that ultimately would show fewer welfare issues for the industry to report.

Similar declines in industry-activity on welfare for greyhounds can be 

seen in the decline of doping tests carried out.

It is clear that welfare is not at the centre of the industry.

Monday 29 March 2021

Welfare Inspections Decline


Greyhound Racing Ireland give more PR on welfare

but yet again such industry PR conflicts

with their own figures.

On 26th March 2021, GRI gave out a statement on a conviction under the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 and, again, claimed that there is a 'priority of maintaining animal welfare at the centre of the industry'.

The statement went on to tell the public that 455 welfare inspections were conducted in 2020 and how the inspection program had been impacted, for 2020, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The actual GRI report on welfare inspections for 2020 has still not been updated to show the figure of 455 inspections, and as of March 29th 2021 the 2020 report shows the figure of 84 welfare inspections - yet again showing a slackness in transparency from the industry.

The 2020 report of 455 welfare inspections was not just a massive decline from the 615 welfare inspections in 2019 but a decline in general and lowest figure since 2015. Such declines of figures have been seen before, as with the decline in testing for doping. Such figures that continue to question how welfare can be 'at the centre of the industry'.

GRI claim that for 2020 welfare inspections were impacted by Covid-19 restrictions.

On the 12th March 2020, GRI published it's rules/restrictions in regard to Covid-19. The very next day, 13th March 2020,  those rules were ignored by GRI CEO Gerard Dollard as well as Liam Dowling.

The rules/restrictions didn't have an impact on continued breeding of greyhounds - indeed this practice was deemed an essential service.

The rules/restrictions didn't have an impact on the continued sales of greyhounds - such as the sale of TD Jackie Cahill's greyhound Minnies Petrov. TD Jackie Cahill, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Food and The Marine(who question GRI on such issues as greyhound welfare), owned Minnies Petrov at the time of behind-closed-doors racing, and then sold her despite Covid-19 restrictions.

That the continued sales, breeding and racing of greyhounds

 was deemed essential during Covid-19

 but welfare inspections of greyhounds was impacted by Covid-19 restrictions 

should be of great public concern.

Friday 19 February 2021

Industry misinformation


GRI(Greyhound Racing Ireland)CEO

falls instantly in a recent radio interview 

as misinformation continues within the industry.

Gerard Dollard, CEO of GRI(ex IGB)was recently invited onto NewsTalk to defend the greyhound industry, in another attempt to win waning public support for the industry. Dollard immediately opens his defence with recent coverage of the industry being 'based on misinformation' and that 'in terms of public perception[of the industry]there has been damage done' but he believes that the industry has a 'good story to tell'.

A CEO simply cannot tell the public that misinformation is being used against the industry while the industry itself gives the public misinformation.

One example of misinformation used by the industry is on the injury figures. GRI want the public to believe that injuries are rare. To show this GRI give the public the figures for injuries in 2020 being:

255, with 88 being put to sleep out of 69,029 runners - as shown in a GRI report.

Those 69,029 runners, however, would be made up from the racing pool of approximately 3,600 greyhounds -  as shown in a report Dollard freely emailed to politicians in 2019, in reference to matters raised at a Public Accounts Committee hearing. 

There were not 69,029 individual greyhounds used for racing in Ireland in 2020 but this figure is used by the industry to give the public a false perception/misinformation that racing is safe and injuries/deaths are rare.

Another, concerning, example of misinformation given to the public from the industry is on the issue of the traceability of greyhounds.

The GRI record for a greyhound called IMOKRYOU has recently been updated to say 'rehomed'.

Greyhounds listed on GRI records as 'rehomed' looks great for the public - but, as well as being misinformation, it cannot 100% be relied on that a greyhound listed as rehomed has indeed been rehomed.

It has long been a concern for greyhound advocates on the truth of greyhound traceability. The new GRI traceability scheme continues to relay on the owner/breeder simply filling in a box to say that a greyhound has been rehomed.

As for IMOKRYOU, she wasn't simply rehomed. She was absolutely rescued.

Just months after being used for breeding, IMOKRYOU was taken to the dog pound with instructions not to be homed. It was, thankfully, the dedicated, caring, people from an independent rescue who negotiated the release of IMOKRYOU for homing and not for her to be destroyed.

It was 2018, when IGS first highlighted the abuse IMOKRYOU went through - but now, under the new attempts to gain public trust, GRI have listed her as simply 'rehomed'.

Sadly, IMOKRYOU is not, and will not be, the only 

greyhound to be used by the industry to gain public trust.

Saturday 31 October 2020

IRGT deals with breeder/exporter


Bord na gCon(Irish Greyhound Board)may have changed its name 

to Rásaíocht Con Éireann(Greyhound Racing Ireland)

under the new Greyhound Racing Act 2019 - but a leopard doesn't change its spots.

Greyhound Racing Ireland(GRI)and the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust(IRGT)recently published news of the opening of their new Greyhound Care Centre. This has long been awaited by many involved in greyhound rescue and rehabilitation.

In August concerns were raised with IGS about who had been awarded the tender to operate the new GRI/IRGT Greyhound Care Centre.

Those concerns are now confirmed.

The recent PR from GRI/IRGT has failed to tell the public that they awarded the tender to Viara Gentchev of Greyfort Kennels. As well as being a greyhound breeder, Viara is notorious with greyhound exports. GRI Welfare Manager/IRGT Secretary, Barry Coleman and GRI Welfare Officer, Joanne Murray joined Viara to talk about the Greyhound Care Centre on a little-known podcast - but of course, Viara's exports were not spoken about.

Viara was awarded the tender to operate this homing centre, by GRI/IRGT, despite her going against the greyhound industry advice on exports - to countries such as Pakistan - and despite Viara being in breach of the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 - transfer of ownership.  Her greyhound Greyfort Scarlot(also named as Greyfort Wicked)is now shown to be in Pakistan but still registered to Viara with GRI and in the greyhound Stud Book as well as being shown to be in the UK(GBGB owned) - last raced in 2017.

In 2019 Viara bred 17 greyhound pups - 17 more greyhounds added to the thousands that need homes every year.  Imagine what the public response would be if a rescue/homing centre - taking public donations - was breeding dogs at the same time as looking for adopters. 

Funding for the new Greyhound Care Centre comes from the new GRI Greyhound Care Fund. This fund shows that money spent by the public at greyhound tracks goes towards the new homing centre - operated by a greyhound breeder/exporter. 

We have seen incompetence before with the IRGT, such as:  

Despite the IRGT taking donations from the public against the Charities Act 2009, the accounts for 2017 still remain confusing. The IRGT 2017 accounts with the Charities Regulator show a contradiction to the Mullingar greyhound track thank-you-banner of the donations raised in 2017.

Any greyhound making it out alive from the industry and finding a home is a good thing.

But greyhounds need sincerity - not PR, secrets and incompetence.

Can the public, financially supporting this new homing centre, really be

expected to trust those running it?

Friday 7 August 2020

Unlawful greyhound breeding - again

Serious breach of the

Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 ignored.

A limit on breeding, meant to give some protection, for female greyhounds was made law under the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 Regulation 11 Restrictions on breeding - A regulation taken to the limit by greyhound breeders.

As shown in the Act regulation, a female greyhound can have no more than 8 litters(6 generally plus 2 more if certified by a vet that there is no risk to the health and welfare of the greyhound. An offence has been committed if a greyhound has had more than 8 litters. Further more, it is unlawful for a 9th litter to be registered, by the Irish Coursing Club, in the Greyhound Stud Book - it is also unlawful for the progeny of any 9th litter to be registered by the ICC.

This regulation has been breached and ignored.

A litter, bred in 2018 by Liam Dowling(a much celebrated figure in the greyhound industry), showed greyhound Paradise Simona having 5 pups listed on the Irish Greyhound Board website - although 6 pups were registered with the ICC.

Paradise Simona, and her pups, are the progeny of an unlawfully bred/registered 9th litter from greyhound Dalcash Diva(a litter briefly highlighted by IGS in 2015).

All greyhound litter reports publicly available on the IGB website curiously became unavailable for nearly 3 weeks following the IGS social-media publication of Liam Dowling's unlawful litter, and an IGS email to the Greyhound Board of Great Britain and the UK Greyhound Trust to call for unlawfully bred/registered greyhounds to be immediately stood down from use in racing and to be made available for adoption. The GBGB never replied to our email, of the 15th July, and continue to allow the use of unlawfully bred/registered greyhound Ballymac Unsub from the Paradise Simona litter. The IGB also allowed the continued use of unlawfully bred/registered greyhound Rockfield Belle from the Paradise Simona litter - IGS did receive a reply from the UK Greyhound Trust and their email reply had also copied-in the GBGB.

On the 21st of July TD Catherine Murphy raised our concerns, with the Dept. Agriculture, Food and the Marine, on the unlawfully bred/registered greyhounds being used on both Irish and English tracks. The IGB and ICC denied any knowledge of a breach of Regulation 11 of the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011. 

On the 4th August greyhound litter reports were once again made available to the public on the IGB website. IGS was then able to research further unlawful breeding

Greyhound Ballymac Floss, bred by Liam Dowling in 2002, had a 9th litter in 2012.

Liam Dowling used Ballymac Floss to breed the maximum of 8 litters allowed, then at aged 10 years old, as if enough hadn't been taken from her, Ballymac Floss had a new owner, Elaine Parker, who used her to breed a 9th litter. Despite this litter seemingly registered in England, reports show that the progeny from this litter were used for racing and further  breeding in Ireland.

Ballymac Lana, from Ballymac Floss's 9th litter, has so far been used to breed 4 litters in Limerick and Cork producing greyhounds registered and used for racing in Ireland.

On the 7th July, TD Catherine Murphy raised a question to DAFM on the criteria on Government funding to the Irish greyhound industry for 2019 and 2020. The then DAFM Minister, Barry Cowen, answered that the funding was given under certain conditions - such as the IGB having to meet its  obligations to comply with the various greyhound legislations  - legislation such as the Restrictions on breeding under the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011.

To date, for 2020, the IGB have been given €14.7 M of their allocated €16.8M.

Given that greyhounds unlawfully bred and registered were used for racing on tracks in Ireland in 2019 and 2020, and that this serious breach has been ignored, IGS calls on the Government funding to the IGB to be stopped and questioned further. 

The unlawful breeding, and blatant disregard for legislation cannot be allowed to become the debacle that was seen with a previous serious breach of breeding regulations - which had been allowed to continue for 9 years.

Monday 29 June 2020

New DAFM Minister For the greyhound industry

Irish Greyhound Spotlight calls for
the immediate replacement of the newly appointed 
Minister for Dept. Agriculture, Food and the Marine -
Barry Cowen who is set to oversee
the Irish greyhound industry.

On Saturday 27th June 2020 it was announced that Ireland's new Taoisesch, Micheal Martin, had appointed TD Barry Cowen as the new DAFM Minister - to replace Michael Creed, who IGS in 2016 highlighted concerns of for a conflict of interest in such a Ministerial role.

In 2010 Barry Cowen was appointed a job with the Irish Greyhound Board as Sales, Commercial and Operations Manager at the Mullingar greyhound Stadium - a job reported to have then paid a salary of up to €40k.

As well as working for the IGB, Barry Cowen owned and bred greyhounds - a greyhound such as Droopys Wiggy
Having not been used for racing, Droopys Wiggy was instead used as a breeding machine - from just before reaching the age of 2 years old up to the age of 8 and a half years old.

The Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 Section 11 Restrictions on Breeding outline that it is an offence for a female greyhound to be caused to have more than 6 litters unless a 'veterinary practitioner certifies that the pregnancy and birth do not present a risk of health or welfare of the bitch and: the certificate is lodged with Club[Irish Coursing Club]'
If these 2 rules in the 2011 Act are met with then a female greyhound can have a further 2 litters - bring her total life-breeding-use to 8 litters.

Barry Cowen - the new DAFM Minister overseeing the greyhound industry - was involved in using Droopys Wiggy for breeding a 7th and 8th time.
Her 8th litter failed but the IGB show that her seven litters produced 31 pups for the industry - her seventh litter in 2011 showing six pups in the stud book but only one pup listed with the IGB.
Out of her 31 pups only 2 can be seen as homed, in Germany.

That a person who has been employed by an industry, made money from an industry, and, even if complying with rules of an Act, used an ageing greyhound for continued breeding - adding to the overwhelming scale of greyhound breeding - can be appointed as a Minister to oversee that very industry raises questions of a conflict of interest. 

Surely Barry Cowen's appointment as Minister for Dept. Agriculture, Food and the Marine conflicts with his 'duty to keep faith with public trust' and ability to 'make decisions and encourage and support the making of decisions on merit without discrimination'  and 'not be influenced in their official duties by personal considerations' - as set out in the Code of Conduct for Office Holders in accordance with the Standards in Public Office Act 2001.

If Micheal Martin, the new Taoisesch, can do one good immediate 
action in his new appointment it would be to
reverse his appointment of 
Barry Cowmen as DAFM Minister.

** UPDATE 15th July 2020 **

Following research by IGS into Cowen's history with the greyhound industry, the Irish Examiner furthered the issue to a wider audience on July 10th.

Further press coverage prior and post to that article Cowen's character came further into question following his drink-driving history.

Cowen was sacked from Government on Tuesday 14th July - after being appointed on  27th June.

TD Dara Calleary was, on 15th July, announced as the new DAFM Minister - we can only hope commit to his demands of justice following the 2019 RTE documentary which showed the horrors of the greyhound industry. 


Sunday 3 May 2020

Greyhound industry v Covid-19

On the 12th March Taoiseach
Leo Varadkar(Irish Prime Minister)
issued his statement on Covid-19 for Ireland.
But how would the Greyhound industry respond?

Leo referred, in his 12th March speech, to the updated guidelines of 12th March from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control - page two of which the ECDC gave advice where social distancing measures should be implemented, such as in the workplace.

The Irish Greyhound Board, on the 12th March, gave a statement that using greyhounds for racing would continue behind closed doors - with 'one person, one dog' admissions only permitted.

Greyhound trainer Liam Dowling celebrates a race-win on the 13th March at Tralee's Kingdom greyhound stadium with a gathered-group photo which includes the IGB's CEO Gerard Dollard.

Racing behind closed doors continued until the 24th March. Despite the IGB's 'one person, one dog' stipulation the IGB race videos, through March, show people continued to group together - such as at the last races on 22nd March at Mullingar.

On 20th April greyhound breeders showed their commitment in continuing to travel throughout Ireland to meet owners travelling with their greyhounds to continue the over-breeding of greyhounds, seeing themselves as an 'essential' service -  seemingly falling under the Governments essential services list under Agriculture and Fishing for 'animal production'.

Greyhound traders also continued to travel and transport greyhounds from Ireland to the UK as boasted on the 21st April.

While the trading and breeding of greyhounds continues, rescue centres struggle to meet the everyday-costs to care for the greyhounds used and discarded by the industry

Despite the industry showing a blatant disregard for the lockdowns/social distancing during a pandemic, the IGB raises it's disappointment with the Government, on 2nd of May, that the use of greyhounds for racing will not resume until the Governments third phase on 28th June. 

The IGB asks Dept of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to take into account its' 'ability to run in compliance with Covid-19 protocols' as it has previously 'demonstrated'.

Meanwhile, in the UK, as NHS workers continue to risk their lives with the shortages of PPE
greyhound track promoter, Kevin Boothby boasts on how

And not even during the pandemic of a devastating virus will
the greyhound industries show any sincerity.

**Update 11th June 2020**

The use again of greyhounds for racing has been permitted by the Government - trials resume 8th June and races to resume 15th June, again behind closed doors.

This earlier-than-planned part of the Governments Covid-19 recovery roadmap, was fought for by the likes of Councillor Eileen Lynch and TD Jackie Cahill - both with self-interests in the greyhound industry.

Councillor Lynch wrote an article for The Corkman where she spoke of being "involved in the greyhound industry" all her life, and that the "welfare of greyhounds was first and foremost.." - despite still being listed in the greyhound stud book as the owner of Knockrour Sonic who was exported to Spain, re-named Tenes and was used for racing 111 times in BarcelonaComments about this from the concerned public were removed.

TD Jackie Cahill, in his fight for a early resumption of greyhound racing, spoke in the That'sFarming of how "the greyhound sector....fully adhered to public health advice and restrictions" in reference to the previous continued racing behind closed doors - despite the failings highlighted and despite a race on the 14th March, in which one of his own greyhounds, Minnies Petrov, was used to race in, showing(again)people gathered at the track side - a race in which another greyhound was injured and did not finish. This raises further concerns of safety for all concerned during the covid pandemic on how an injured greyhound can be retrieved from the track.
In an RTE article in 2019 Cahill said "there can be no circumstances where we can condone the putting down of a healthy dog" - IGS wonders if Cahill can reassure the public on the fate of his greyhound Ballinhow Thomas, who only had one race. In 2013 despite the race result card saying Ballinhow Thomas was outpaced the race video shows clearly he was injured and finished lame.

Further to this, the Irish Greyhound Board and Kingdom Greyhound Stadium published photos of the resumption of trials - the photos show an immediate disregard of the IGB Covid-19 Protocols on the 8th of June and 9th of June.   

***UPDATE*** 15th August

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues so does the failures of IGB Covid-19 protocols, such failures as shown on the 8th August and 15th August.

Despite PR from the IGB in the Westmeath Examiner on 13th August, where the IGB CEO wants to assure the public that "Measures introduced to date include a strict one person one dog policy" - as was ignored on the 8th August and even celebrated on the IGB website.
The IGB PR was in response to the midlands lockdown where attendance at the Mullingar track would "not pose an undue threat" as the IGB has a "comprehensive Covid-19 response plan in place to provide for social distancing" - as was ignored at Mullingar(again)on the 15th August.

Indeed the IGB race videos throughout this serious pandemic show many failures of IGB Covid-19 protocol at the various tracks throughout Ireland.