Erin comes from the Irish word for Ireland. Erin Hounds was founded in 2008 to help sighthounds in Ireland who have no hope for the following reasons:
Approximately 15 – 20,000 greyhounds are bred annually in Ireland, with the majority of greyhounds that race on UK tracks, having been born in Ireland. The largest UK greyhound -specific homing charity receives funds from the UK racing industry and predominantly rehomes the greyhounds that have reached and survived racing on registered UK tracks. They rehome about half of the 8000 greyhounds that retire in the UK annually.
Registered greyhounds race from about 18 months to 4 years of age unless critically injured and destroyed at the track, but greyhounds live for 12 – 15 years. Doping in greyhound racing is common in Ireland and monitoring ineffective.
Registering a greyhound costs money and those deemed unworthy are never registered. An estimated 10,000 young greyhounds are unaccounted for annually but the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB), unlike the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB), holds no figures for the total number of puppies born or the size of registered litters. The Irish Coursing Club holds the stud book for both racing and coursing greyhounds but being an independent body, these totals remain private.
If a greyhound is sent to the UK to race on a licensed track they will be registered with the GBGB having been logged as an “export” and de-registered by the IGB. Those destined for coursing, unregistered (flapping) tracks or the increasing numbers auctioned off to countries like Spain and Pakistan are figuratively lost forever.
Greyhounds are surrendered daily to Irish dog pounds and vets by their owners for immediate destruction. These will have failed racing trials aged 2 or less (saplings) often due to injury, been retired aged 3 or 5 or have reached the end of exhaustive breeding aged 6 – 8. Since pound statistics are visible and an apparent low destruction rate reflects better on the racing industry, many greyhounds are not even afforded a humane end by their owners, breeders and trainers.
Greyhounds picked up as strays, rather than being surrendered, are destroyed after five days. While awaiting this almost inevitable fate, they are kept in crowded, stressful conditions.
Over 4000 dogs are destroyed annually in pounds in The Republic of Ireland due to a spectrum of welfare issues including puppy farming, low spay and neuter rates and a culture where dogs are allowed to roam. These dogs do not predominantly comprise bull or guard breeds but labradors, collies, cross breeds, lurchers and terriers. Some pounds refuse to interact with rescues and a few have a 100% destruction rate for greyhounds. Many general Irish rescues cannot take in greyhounds since they are seen as livestock rather than pets and will never find homes there and some Irish rescues are reluctant to publically seek homes outside Ireland.
Many more dogs enter pounds annually but the statistics can be misleading eg “Rehomed” rather than “Moved to rescue” will be used for a dog liberated on its final day before destruction by a well – meaning individual who with the required dog licence, pays a release fee and then passes it on to a rescue to deal with. What constitutes a “rescue” is also variable, with some being ignorant of sighthound care or nothing more than animal hoarders and others allowing dogs to leave without neutering or homechecks, risking another cycle of irresponsible ownership and misuse. Sighthounds and other working dogs are interbred and the resulting lurchers are used as trade items or for “field sports” with many mistreated or abandoned. Increasingly pounds have contracts with bona fide rescues to clear unclaimed dogs without resorting euthanasia so rescues now face competition for suitable homes, dogs waiting in kennel environments for periods detrimental to their welfare and increased financial and emotional pressure. Without a radical change in mindset on dog racing as an industry, enforcement of welfare laws and active companion animal education in Ireland, there will be no respite for the hounds and those who care.
Rescued dogs coming into Erin Hounds’ care pass through a chain of caring hands on their way to a new home thanks to our network of like-minded volunteers. We start getting to know the rescued dogs in Irish boarding kennels where any specific needs are identified. When a space becomes available in the UK, many then enter a foster home where their character and behaviour is assessed whilst on walks, when left alone and in the company of cats, children and other dogs. Getting to know our dogs well makes for successful and happy outcomes for all. All our dogs will be neutered and we make home visits where questions and concerns can be raised by both parties. We keep in touch after adoption, offering ongoing support and advice if needed.