Appalling video footage has emerged in Australia showing the use of live piglets, rabbits and possums as bait to train some of the country’s most successful greyhounds. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s secretly filmed blooding footage shows greyhound trainers laughing and joking as animals are attached to mechanical lures and dragged along for greyhound to chase and attack.
In one scene, there is laughter among the greyhound trainers when it’s revealed that an unfortunate possum – snapped in half with its spinal cord exposed – “wouldn’t have much go in it, its guts are ripped out”.
Today’s sickening expose of Australia’s greyhound industry presents an opportunity to consider the situation here in Ireland.
We have no reason to believe that blooding does not take place in Ireland as a training method for greyhounds used in hare coursing and track racing. It is illegal and therefore certainly kept well hidden from public view.
In 1994, John Martin, a leading greyhound commentator and journalist, wrote in the Irish Independent: “The bald truth is that greyhound racing would not continue to exist without blooding. It follows that, with a constant greyhound population of close on 30,000, blooding must be widespread. Do not expect an admission of that from Bord na gCon.” See his article ‘Why They Can’t Halt the Blooding’
The article was in response to a BBC documentary by Donal McIntyre which featured secretly filmed footage of dozens of rabbits being used to blood greyhounds at a training track in Donaskeagh, Tipperary. The ensuing court case resulted in the son of a top Irish trainer being found guilty of cruelty to animals.
More recently, in a June 2004 Irish Independent report, John Martin wrote that there were allegations of 6am trials at an Irish Greyhound Board-licensed racing track in Dundalk involving the use of live hares to blood greyhounds. A staff member was fired but management denied it was connected to blooding allegations. During an Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee meeting, Bord na gCon’s Chief Executive said that blooding is not condoned. However, responding to a statement from then Green Party TD Dan Boyle that it could happen without their knowledge, the CEO conceded that “anything can happen without one’s knowledge”.
The shocking footage from Australia shows live animals being dragged along for greyhounds to chase and tear apart. RSPCA Australia chief executive Heather Neil refers to blooding as an “entrenched culture” where animal cruelty is seen as an accepted cost in the greyhound industry.
“If it is this widespread in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, it would be naive to think it isn’t happening elsewhere,” she said in a statement.
How widespread is blooding here in Ireland? In his Irish Independent report, John Martin suggested that blooding is integral to the Irish greyhound racing industry. “Privately, those in authority who know about greyhound racing, believe they will never stamp it out,” he wrote. “They also know that the elimination of blooding would lead to the collapse of the whole industry.”
See the RTE News report “Live piglets, rabbits used as bait to train Australian greyhounds”