RTÉ documentary reveals that almost 6,000 greyhounds are killed in Ireland every year 3 weeks ago

RTÉ documentary reveals that almost 6,000 greyhounds are killed in Ireland every year

A review found that 16,000 greyhounds are born each year, of which 5,987 are killed because they fail to make qualification times.

Nearly 6,000 greyhounds were killed for not racing fast enough in 2017, a new RTÉ investigation claims.

RTÉ Investigates: Greyhounds, Running for Their Lives, is set to air tonight (26 June) at 9.35pm on RTÉ One and it claims that in 2017, a consultancy firm was paid €115,000 to carry out a business analysis report on behalf of the Irish Greyhound Board.

The report stated that 16,000 greyhounds are born each year, of which 5,987 are killed because they fail to make qualification times or their performance declines.

The report also stated that an estimated 1,000% more pups are bred than are actually needed to race.

The document also proposed comprehensive reforms of the sport, which the documentary claims were not adopted by the IGB.

The report was only circulated to the Minister for Agriculture last month and last week, the Public Accounts Committee was told that it was too commercially sensitive to release.

Chief executive of the Irish Greyhound Board, Gerard Dollard, told the documentary: “I accept there is an issue in relation to unaccounted-for dogs. I think the figures that are being thrown out are, in fact, well in excess of what the actual figure is because of a number of exports to the UK and elsewhere.”

Aside from this, RTÉ journalists also contacted knackeries across Ireland. 30 licensed knackeries in Ireland were contacted and half of them said that they would kill greyhounds for prices ranging from €10 to €35 each.

The Department of Agriculture licences and polices knackeries, officially known as Category 2 Intermediate plants. The Department told the programme: "Dogs, including greyhounds, are classified as a Category 1 animal and cannot enter a Category 2 plant, dead or alive. Euthanasia of greyhounds or other animals… is not approved."

However, one knackery said that they shot dogs in bulk. Subsequently, undercover filming by RTÉ Investigates of the premises captured the killing and disposal of four greyhounds within a matter of days.

Brendan Gleeson, Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said in the documentary: "There are issues of significant concern. There are issues around the entire business model for the sector and of the organisation."

Dr Andrew Kelly of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) added: "We believe there’s a large gap in which thousands of puppies that are born, they are never registered, simply disappear."

The Irish Greyhound Board have received almost a quarter of a billion euro in state funding since 2001.

The documentary also examines the issues of illegal hare coursing in Ireland and claims that some greyhounds were given illegal drugs to enhance their performance.

On the issue of doping, Finbarr Heslin, veterinary surgeon, says that "we see dogs who come in and they’ve had so much EPO pumped into them that their blood is like treacle".

There has only been a single case where a trainer had his licence revoked by the Irish Greyhound Board because of doping issues, that was in 2015.

Although the sport is banned in most countries, Ireland is one of three countries where live hare racing still takes place.