- 12 May 11
Over 30 musicians and Irish celebrities have signed a letter of petition against The Irish Greyhound Board’s (IGB) plans to invest in, and develop, racetracks in China
Also among the signatories to the letter are Sharon Shannon, Gavin Friday and the award-winning actor Brendan Gleeson.
"There is a massive amount of well-documented evidence of dogs and cats being thrown alive into boiling water, and then skinned, alive, to eventually end up for sale as fur and food in open markets in China," the letter states.
Last week, following considerable public pressure, the Department of Agriculture denied the Irish Greyhound Board permission to export Irish greyhounds to China, but they are still considering granting permission for the board to develop five stadia there. But if this project goes ahead, the letter points out, the IGB "will have to get Greyhounds from somewhere."
A statement issued by the group expanded on the letter.
"Many people find this potential development very sinister," the statement said.
Irish jewellery designer, Geraldine Murphy, who has a rescued Lurcher of her own that she adopted from the DSPCA nine years ago, heard about the possible export of Irish Greyhounds to China, and sent a newsletter to everyone she knew, including all her clients, to alert them to the news.
“I design a lot of animal jewellery, so most of my customers are animal lovers," she said. "The response I got back from my email was incredible. People were disgusted. One customer then introduced me to her cousin, Sharon Shannon, who was absolutely horrified. She wanted to know what she could do to help. I wrote a letter of petition and Sharon sent it to all her famous musician friends.”
Shannon herself has come out strongly against any involvement by the Irish Greyhound Board in China.
“I have four dogs myself and I adore them completely, but the unconditional love a dog gives you in return seems to be impossible to us humans,” says Sharon. “Greyhounds are no different. In fact these beautiful animals are more gentle and vulnerable than most other dogs, yet are way too often treated like machines by heartless humans. Some of the images of cruelty I have seen I will never forget. I couldn't bear the thought of such needless cruelty to dogs. I had to do something.”
When Gavin Friday, another animal-lover and dog owner, was asked if he would put his name to the letter, he replied: “Totally... YES, put my name down 100 times!”
The Greyhound racing industry has been in decline for years, at least in part because because the welfare of Greyhounds has become a significant issue. According to activists, as many as 12,000 Greyhounds a year are killed in pounds all over Ireland and the UK.
"The Irish Greyhound Board is a semi-state body, part-financed by Irish taxes," the statement added. "Many people are struggling to cope with the recession, and feel that cuts, including to services for children and people with special needs, as well as the health service, are difficult to bear. Yet an industry that exploits animals in this way, and which is also heavily associated with gambling, is still benefiting from the State’s meagre finances.
The controversy has taken on an international dimension, with Ricky Gervais, Jilly Cooper and Annette Crosbie joining Greyhound Crusaders in the UK to pressurise the Irish Government to say no to the IGB’s proposal.
"Greyhound welfare groups from as far away as Spain and the USA were in Dublin two weeks ago to urge for a ban on exporting Irish dogs. So this hasn’t done Ireland’s already battered international reputation any favours," the statement concluded.
Other celebrities who signed the petition include Tommy Tiernan, Frances Black, Christy Moore, Paul Brady, Darrel Higham, Damien Dempsey, Louis Copeland, Eleanor Shanley, Ian Dempsey, Linda Martin, Declan O'Rourke, Luka Bloom, Luan Parle, Donal Lunny, Mundy, Lucia Evans, Barry Murphy, John Reynolds, Mary Black, Liam O Maonlaí, Lenny Abrahamson, Glenda Gilson, Jerry Fish, Ciara Sidine and Jack Lukeman.
For more information regarding the plight of Greyhounds, please go to [link]www.greyhoundaction.org.uk[/link]