According to an independent Preferred Results Ltd report commissioned by Greyhound Racing Ireland in 2017, over 83% of the racing greyhound pool in the UK originates in Ireland.
The report also states that racing greyhounds ‘are exported to the UK, for prices that are less than 50% of their actual production cost’
However a more recent article published in Greyhound Star on 10th July 2020 states that ‘around 90% of UK racers are Irish bred.’ According to the same article, the ‘total number of matings (in Ireland) for the first six months of the year’ has dropped ‘to 1,195 from 1,588’. That represents a 30.4% decline with no immediate likelihood of an upturn.’
The Irish greyhound racing industry’s reputation in relation to the doping of greyhounds is well established. Greyhounds in Ireland have tested positive for cocaine, barbiturates, ketamine, Viagra, cannabis, beta-blockers, Ritalin, and morphine – to name just a tiny number of the substances found.
This poses a huge concern when purchasing dogs from Ireland. Their racing record may be improved due to illegal substances rather than natural ability, therefore their price may be vastly inflated.
Fines imposed on the individual responsible can be as low as €100 with no further action, so there is very little deterrent or consequence.
Greyhounds testing positive at sales trials have been documented. One such example is a dog named ‘Billy’s Question’ who tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine on 13th June 2017 at a sales auction at Curraheen Park Greyhound track in Cork. Shortly afterwards the dog was brought over to race in the UK.
Control Committee report https://www.grireland.ie/globalassets/rescource-centre/reports/control/december—2017.pdf
Trial Results 13th June 2017 Lot 72 Heat 19
Because of the issues with greyhound doping in Ireland, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) mandated that as of 1st Jan 2107, all greyhounds from Ireland who present for competition in the UK must first provide a negative test for drugs.
Greyhounds imported into the UK from Ireland generally arrive via ferry using one of the greyhound transporter services. By law these individuals are obliged to have a current Type 2 certification (this authorisation covers journeys of over 8 hours i.e. long journeys such as transport from Ireland). They must ensure that the greyhounds are accompanied by a veterinary health (‘Balai’) certificate issued by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine within 48 hours of the scheduled departure time. The dogs also require a clinical veterinary examination within 48 hours of departure, to confirm that the animal shows no signs of diseases and is fit to be transported for the intended journey. This is documented in each dog’s EU Pet Passport.
Further information available https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/animaltransport/
However not all greyhound transporters are equal or adequate. One example is Tom Tanner from West Cork in Ireland. He is also a Greyhound Sales Agent.
‘At a disciplinary committee enquiry at the beginning of July, the GBGB found that Tom Tanner from Cork was in breach of greyhound welfare rules. The breach was categorised as “the most serious kind”.
The committee heard that “Mr Tanner had now admitted the breaches pursued against him by the Board. These were: that in breach of Rule 174 (xi) Mr Tanner had caused or permitted greyhounds to be treated in such a manner as caused or was likely to cause unnecessary suffering; that in breach of Rule 2 he had failed to ensure the needs of greyhounds for which he was responsible were adequately met; and that by these breaches he was in breach of Rule 152 (i) and also in breach of Rule 152 (ii) in that he had acted in a manner prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of greyhound racing.”
The committee’s report, published in the Greyhound Board of Great Britain’s ‘Calendar’ publication, outlined that Tanner “delivered 24 greyhounds to an unlicensed sale at Kinsley Stadium on 22 January 2016, arranged with the cooperation of the stadium, offering the dogs on a sale or return basis for a price of £350 per dog, payable if the dog subsequently achieved the stadium’s grading time. He transported the greyhounds overnight from his kennels in County Cork via the Belfast to Liverpool ferry, arriving at the stadium before 8.30am.”
Several trainers viewing the dogs raised concerns with the stadium management about their “very poor condition”.
Kinsley Stadium’s Racing Manager and Welfare Officer had both inspected the greyhounds and “they too had been seriously concerned by their condition and the conditions in which they had been transported.” They had asked the vet on duty at the track to examine the dogs. They also asked trainers to “take greyhounds into their care so that they would not have to travel back to Ireland with Mr Tanner and to provide water and bedding for the greyhounds that could make the journey”.
The vet examined 15 of the 24 greyhounds. He found:– Five seriously underweight, in one case by some 20%, in three cases with suspected worm infestation.
– All 15 were flea infested, some heavily so.
– Five greyhounds had longstanding, untreated wounds, either caused or aggravated by self mutilation, probably in response to flea infestation.
– Two had multiple pressure sores.
– One had urine scalding to both hocks.
– Six were dehydrated.
– The condition of eight of the 15 meant they should not have made the journey to Kinsley Stadium and were not fit for transport but had to be homed locally.’
Further information available here https://banbloodsports.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/an-appalling-state-of-affairs-irish-greyhound-sales-agent-fined-5000-after-underweight-dehydrated-flea-infested-greyhounds-including-a-skeleton-on-legs/
The importation of racing greyhounds from Ireland depends on the supply of greyhounds bred at a huge loss. This is only possible because of an Irish Government subvention of up to €16.8m per year to the industry. Due to other more urgent demands on Government funding, the grants to the greyhound racing industry may be in a precarious position. Only time will tell if the supply of dogs to the UK racing industry will be sufficient to maintain a profitable service to the bookmakers.