The dying greyhound industry is shamefully targeting youngsters as part of a desperate attempt to stay afloat.
Despite being gambling venues where dogs can be heard crying out in agony when they suffer injuries, Irish greyhound tracks are increasingly trying to lure kids in with offers of toy vouchers, free meals and colouring competitions.
In its latest 5-year strategic plan, the Irish Greyhound Board stresses the importance of “encouragement of the younger generation as spectators and regular attendees at greyhound race meetings” and on its website highlights that “children under 18 are welcomed during racing under the supervision of an adult”.
On the “Go Greyhound Racing” site, the IGB encourages parents to introduce their children to racing, saying “going greyhound racing is something totally different, especially if your children haven’t done anything like it before. It gives them something new to look forward to and perhaps even a new hobby to embrace.”
The industry is also trying to attract youngsters to tracks via primary school and GAA club fundraisers and by offering free meals to children who hold their communion and confirmation parties at a track. There is also the offer of “a €5 Toy Store Voucher for the Communion/Confirmation Child” and “Communion/Confirmation child’s name in the race programme”.
Among the tracks presenting greyhound racing as “family-friendly” is Mullingar stadium – the worst in Ireland for greyhound injuries.
On its webpage, it states: “Greyhound racing is one of those rare occasions that all the family can enjoy together. And the fact that the races take place every twelve minutes or so means that children, in particular, have plenty to keep them interested – the kids can…have a ball watching the action”.
Last year, a total of 357 greyhounds suffered injuries and 124 were killed at tracks around Ireland. Mullingar track ranked as the worst for injuries, with 71 dogs reported injured. Children watching “the action” are likely to have seen dogs falling and sustaining injuries to legs, wrists, shoulders, backs, tails, muscles and toes. Mullingar track also stands as the second worst in Ireland for greyhound deaths, with the figures showing that 16 greyhounds were “put to sleep by a vet” there in 2017.
Encouraging children to attend at Easter, the track held a colouring competition with the message: “Calling all kids – show us your artist talent & you could be a winner…Colour in our cartoon greyhound [and] come visit us on Easter Sunday to enter your finished masterpiece”.
A colouring competition was also organised at Limerick Greyhound Stadium – headquarters of the Irish Greyhound Board and the track where the most greyhounds were destroyed last year. Out of 46 greyhounds who suffered injuries there, 41 per cent (19) were put to sleep by a track vet.
Limerick Animal Welfare has highlighted on its Facebook page how “the Irish Greyhound Board are offering free colouring competitions for young children and free Easter treats if they attend the race nights at the Limerick greyhound track this weekend”. Many expressed disgust, with comments including: “hard to know how much lower IGB can go in trying to buy a future audience – disgraceful that a state subsidised body can get away with doing this” and “targeting children with dog killing, abuse, drugging and gambling – as classless as you’d expect from dog racers. They must be desperate to stoop so low.”
Join us in contacting Ireland’s Minister for Children to urge her to intervene to stop this semi-state gambling industry targeting children.
Katherine Zappone, TD
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
43-49 Mespil Rd, Dublin 4
Phone: 085 2196189 OR 01 647 3000
Say NO to the greyhound industry – don’t attend races or fund-raisers held at greyhound tracks. Distribute our “6 reasons to say NO to greyhound racing” leaflet outside greyhound tracks to encourage people to show compassion and boycott greyhound racing. You can download the leaflet at http://www.banbloodsports.com/ln170616.htm or order copies by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Featured image: greyhound racing at Mullingar stadium. Credit P. LeBret & P. Gavigan, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0