A propagandist farce
The latest ruse dreamed up by the Irish racing industry for the purposes of propaganda has an interesting and almost moving name: ‘Our people, their stories’.
It has been launched by none other than Michael Creed, Irish minister for agriculture, who is also in charge of racing, since greyhounds are classified as agricultural goods. Reading the Irish Greyhound Board page launching the campaign, one almost has the impression that Ireland is full of greyhounds living as pets. Shame that this is not the case – indeed the vast majority of greyhounds are adopted outside of Ireland.
The initiative was launched in Cork at the Curraheen Park Greyhound Stadium, the Irish track with the worst record in the first half of this year for track deaths, 7 out of a total of 53 dogs. So an interesting choice…one wonders if the souls of these dead dogs will have been looking on at this charade.
The same article also features a lovely photo of Gerard Dollard, CEO of the Irish Greyhound Board, Bridget Murphy of Friends of Cork Greyhounds, minister Michael Creed and IGB chairman Frank Nyhan. With them are two greyhounds, one of which wears a vest bearing the words ‘Retired, NOT Rescued’.
Nothing new there – the industry is always saying that greyhounds are athletes who retire at the end of their careers, whereas the anti racing movement uses the term ‘rescued’ precisely in order to emphasize the fact that each dog that gets adopted is a survivor, after a lifetime of deprivation and ill treatment. But there IS on reflection something new here, since now at last the industry itself is insisting on this difference in terminology, so from now on we can say without risk of being contradicted that anyone who continues to use the term ‘retired’ is a friend of the industry.
One wonders if the minister has found the time to learn about the dozens of Irish greyhounds exported to Pakistan, regarding which he declared last year: “There is no record at this point of direct exports [of greyhounds] to Pakistan”
How would these greyhounds be classified by the minister and his friends? Retired? Evaporated? Athletes playing away, but unbeknown to the minister?
It is also interesting that the Irish industry have no problem with associating the names IGB and IRGT with each other, because they know perfectly well that they are basically one and the same. Indeed they are proud to point out that the IGB finances the IRGT (Irish Retired Greyhound Trust), and the minister declares: “I wish to congratulate the IRGT, operated and supported by Bord na gCon”.
There are also some fascinating figures. According to the IRGT, it has rehomed more than 5,300 greyhounds since 2008, but an article in the Limerick Post mentions 4,600 dogs in the last decade, while a post by the IRGT itself also speaks of 4,600 dogs…but in 21 years. So which one is the real number? They also state that between January and February this year they have rehomed 853 greyhounds: a decidedly massive number compared to the past. It would be nice to be able to understand how they reached that figure.
It might seem like an impressive number, but things change once you look a little deeper. If we consider that the average age of a greyhound in Ireland at the end of his career is – according to the industry itself – 48 months, and the IRGT’s data for this year refer to the first 10 months of the year ending October 2018, the figure 5,300 should be correlated to the number of greyhounds born from 2005 to 2014.
As we have no figures for 2005, we will look at the years from 2006 to 2015. During this period, according to the figures given by the Indecon Report and GRAI (Greyhound Rescue Association Ireland) there was a total of 32,841 litters, and with an estimated average of 6 pups per litter (a very conservative number) we reach an estimate of 197,046 greyhounds born.
So the 5,300 dogs saved by the industry represents, rounded up, 2.7% of the total number of dogs born. A ridiculously paltry amount – and we have erred on the side of optimism by assuming in good faith that the 5,300 dogs stated were rehomed over ten years and not in more than twenty.
The same thing goes for financial investments: in the aforementioned Limerick Post article the IRGT states that it has spent 2.76 million euros in the last ten years. This amounts to more than 500 euros per dog which might seem like a large amount, but is still a mere pittance when compared to the 100 million euros the IGB has received from successive governments from 2010 to 2017.
‘Our people, their stories’, a propagandist farce which has little or no actual effect on the fate of Irish greyhounds, who continue to be agricultural goods to be exploited – hardly athletes.
By Massimo Greco
Translated by Isobel Deeley