Monday, July 16, 2012

Running For His Life.....

Today I wanted to give you a bit of an insight into my life before I retired and came to live with my Mums. 

Some of you already know that I am a retired racing greyhound. I was known as Barrigone Bank and was born in Limerick, Ireland in May 2007. I only had one other registered litter mate, which is unusual. My Mum had 7 litters in 8 years totaling 54 registered pups. The largest litter was 11 and the smallest, other than mine, 3 - when she was 10 years old. Mum thinks it's possible there were more pups in my litter, but they were too weak to be of any use...... Even my sibling can't be traced after his / her registration in Ireland.   By March 2009 I was at a racing kennel in Derbyshire, England being trialed at Hall Green Racing Stadium in Birmingham. I had a couple of trials in Ireland in December 2008, but other than that it's unclear what happened to me before I went to Derbyshire. All we know (according to the trainer's webpage) is that I was acquired from Hall Green sales "not in the best of conditions" - Mums hate to think what that might mean....

Barrigone Bank - Champion Racer......!
I had my first full race at Hall Green on 26th June 2009 (I came 4th) but by 18th July I'd won my first race. The records show that I had my last race at Hall Green on 4th November 2009 and then I disappeared off the scene until 6th May 2010, when I began racing at Monmore Green in Wolverhampton. Mum says she assumes the 6 month break was down to some significant injury. I raced at Monmore until my retirement in February 2011. Again, we aren't really sure why I was retired (aged 3years 9 months) but we believe that too was down to an injury. 

While trying to fill in the gaps in my history, Mum came across this video, taken at Hall Green on 24th July 2009, when I was just over 2.  This was the sixth race of my career - another 55 were to follow. I am in trap 2

See..... I'm a champ!

Hello, it's Declan's Mum here.

I just wanted to make it clear, that the showing of this video does not in any way mean that I endorse greyhound racing. There is no doubt that greyhounds love to run, but for me, professional greyhound racing is riddled with problems. 

Greyhound racing is a business; people are in it to make money. The desire to find  the highest performing dog that will make money on the track and then be a valuable bitch or stud dog leads to massive over breeding. Around 25,000 pups are registered in the UK each year. That's registered not born. Many are culled at a few days old. 

To make this feel a little more real, here are some facts about Deccy's family. His father, grandfather and great grandfather sired over 11000 pups between them. The number of pups that make it to a racing career isn't really known, but a survey by Greyhound Watch estimated that it's around 52%.  So what happened to Dec's 5500 relatives who didn't become racers? Some may have found homes, many weren't that lucky. Of those that become racers, a recent BBC documentary estimated that 25% are rehomed when they retire. On that basis 1375 relatives got lucky. 4125 didn't. So of those 11,000 + pups it seems reasonable to assume that half never made it and their fate is unclear and of those that did over 4000 were most likely destroyed  at the end of their career. 

Around 10,000 greyhounds retire each year in the UK and the level of cruelty that some endure is truly appalling. Many years ago, before I had Flynn, I was in touch with a rescue group who had just taken in a badly injured greyhound. She had been dumped on the motorway after having her ears burnt off - so that her owner could not be identified by her tattoos. 

 Responsible owners/trainers will keep their dogs as pets or find them a home through rehoming organisations such as Retired Greyhound Trust. But this only accounts for some of the greyhounds retiring. Many others are abandoned, euthanased or brutally killed, while some may be exported to continue racing in appalling conditions abroad, while yet others are used in medical research or vivisection. In 2006 a man from Sunderland in the north east of England was accused of killing up to 10,000 greyhounds over a 15 year period for £10 a time. The method of execution for those poor dogs was a bolt gun, a weapon that fires a metal bar with enough force to shatter the toughest skull. 

There are hundreds of cases of cruelty recorded, and not just towards dogs at the end of their careers, or who didn't make it in the first place. It is beyond my comprehension (or perhaps I just don't want to think about it) why a so called "trainer" deliberately terrifies and physically hurts a dog to try and make it run faster. I am aware of several greyhounds who bare the scars of old cigarette burns. Declan has a few unexplained scars on his side and I've a pretty good idea what they are. Flynn had his tail broken. Generally I am known as a bit of a wishy washy liberal but my anger knows no bounds when I hear how some of these loving and gentle dogs are mistreated. 

All dogs deserve a kind and loving home, be they pedigree, mutts or retired working dogs. But if there was ever a breed that deserves a safe and comfortable home for the rest of their lives,  it's the greyhound. Okay, so I'm biased, what can I say! But if you are considering a getting a dog, you could do an awful lot worse than a retired racer! 

Mr Couch Potato!

Please don't forget to send your entry for my   Tuneful Farting   Olympic event! You only have until Midnight GMT on Wednesday 18th July. Click HERE if you need more information. Send your entries to declansdogsblog(AT)gmail(DOT)com

So far we have entries from:

  • Target 
  • Madi
  • Sasha
  • Goose
  • Molly the Wally
  • Jake & Baby
  • Bouncing Bertie
  • Puddles
  • Nola
  • Bridget
  • Daisy, Bella & Roxy
  • Sarge 
  •  Beachnut
  • Roo
  • The Houston Pittie Pack
  • Maggie & Zoey
  • Rubie
  • Lily Belle
  • Bert
  • Dougall
  • George the Lad
  • Lassiter Chase & Benjamin
  • Stella & Rory
  • Susie 
  •  Sidebite