Too Slow to Win Races, Simply Bred to Die


Those of us who are lucky enough to have lived with greyhounds in their lives love them. But what happens to greyhounds who are part of the Irish greyhound racing industry’s over-breeding practices?

This is a sad industry in which only the fastest dogs are a useful commodity. It’s conservatively estimated that over 14,000 greyhound puppies were born in Ireland in 2018, over 10,000 higher than the number registered to race. Thousands each year will not be of so-called racing standards, so what happens to them?

A 2017 report commissioned by the industry itself estimated that around 8,000 pups go missing, presumed killed, every year. Those “lucky” dogs kept for racing run the risk of injury or death on the track. In the four years from 2015-2018, 506 greyhounds died on Ireland’s 16 tracks. That’s an average of 10 dogs a month dead, while another 1,559 suffered injuries.

Greyhounds running at a racetrack. Many injuries and deaths occur in the course of this “sport.” Image credit Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals.

A racing dog is “retired” at age 3-4, usually due to injuries sustained at the track. What happens to the thousands of dogs retired each year? There simply are not enough places in rescues or homes for this huge number of animals. Ex-racing greyhounds may be killed, often by cruel, illegal methods, including death by shooting, drugs, poisoning, drowning, abandonment, and mutilation. Many will end up being exported to countries that have weak or nonexistent animal welfare legislation, where they may be beaten to death or boiled alive for the meat trade. No dog should suffer this fate after trusting humans as dogs naturally do.

The Irish Government has forked out taxpayers’ money to fund the racing industry to the tune of a quarter of a billion euros up to this year. Over 16 million euros were given each year in 2018 and 2019 to the semi-state body the Irish Greyhound Board, which is responsible for the promotion of greyhound racing. Between 2002 and 2018, the entire greyhound industry received 227 million euros in grants. We are propping up this failing industry. It is more than time that this funding is stopped and this industry abolished.

The greyhound industry claims a yearly grant comes from the 300 million euros a year that the government makes from the betting levy on gambling on horses and greyhounds. In comparison, the Irish Government makes billions from taxing the alcohol and tobacco industries, but doesn’t feel obliged to pump money into promoting those industries. As we know, the government makes money from a variety of taxes but none of that money is then used to pay back a particular industry. Worryingly, many of our politicians are connected to Irish racing and gambling, as they have racing dogs themselves.

Former racing greyhounds in a shelter. Image credit Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals.

The only way to prevent the massive-scale suffering and slaughter of slow, injured, or retired dogs is for greyhound racing to be abolished. As in other countries, the industry is dying. Dublin Central politician, Maureen O’Sullivan TD, has questioned the Minster for Agriculture about the government’s massive funding for the greyhound industry, in light of a huge 50 percent drop in attendance at tracks, as well as decreases in the number of race meetings and owners of racing greyhounds. There has also been a major 60 percent fall in sponsorship. This drop in support is clearly a public rejection of greyhound racing. The government legislated against the tourism industry’s promotion of racing just this year, yet it still pumps in massive amounts of taxpayers’ money, without which this cruel injustice would be ended.

We the Alliance for Animal Rights need help opposing this horrific industry.

Please contact our Taoiseach and demand that government funding for greyhound racing is stopped. Email: or, Constituency Office address: 37A Main Street, Ongar, D15 K3CT, Telephone: 01-6403133, 01-6194598.

Featured image: a former racing greyhound at a shelter in Australia. Image credit Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals.

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About Author

Bernie Wright is the Director of Ireland's Alliance for Animal Rights (AFAR). She is also involved also in The Animal Crimes Register website and Food Not Bombs Dublin County. Bernie ran a street dog rescue in Kathmandu, Nepal called Street Dogs of Nepal for 7 years. She rescued Greyhounds and Irish strays for 30 years with Chy Dog Rescue. She now concentrates mainly on campaigning. Click to see author's profile.

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