THE owner of a Portlaoise knackery that featured in a disturbing RTÉ Investigates programme on the greyhound industry says he has suffered ongoing threats and abuse since the show aired last week.
John Styles, owner of animal collection service John Styles & Sons, says members of his family also received insults and threats since the documentary aired on Wednesday night.
Speaking to the Laois Nationalist yesterday (Monday), Mr Styles said his company no longer euthanised greyhounds and had not done so “for some time”. He said: “We’ve done nothing wrong, but we’re not providing that service any more anyway. We stopped that a while ago and we’re finished with that now. I can give out no information other than that. Both me and my family have gotten threats and abuse since the programme and I’m not saying any more.”
The company on the New Road in Portlaoise, which is one of the biggest knackeries in Ireland, was among a number of animal collection firms that featured in the RTÉ Investigates: Greyhounds Running for Their Lives documentary. The programme claimed that almost 6,000 underperforming greyhounds are killed in Ireland every year for not racing fast enough, with some dogs shot in knackeries for as little as €10 when they are no longer of use to their owners.
The documentary stated that half of the 30 licensed Irish knackeries, including the Portlaoise firm, said they would be willing to kill greyhounds for as little as €10 to €35 each.
Hidden RTÉ cameras outside the Portlaoise knackery showed four greyhounds being put down within a week. One greyhound was filmed from a distance as it was shot in the back of the head, while the owner waited outside for the dog collar to be returned. The dead dogs were brought out of the premises on a teleporter and dumped into a skip outside.
Mr Styles repeated yesterday that his company did nothing wrong, but it was no longer providing a service for people seeking to have their greyhounds put down. He said: “The department changed the rules and we don’t provide that service now. We’re finished with that now and people will have to go somewhere else. I will leave that to all the do-gooders now.”
Meanwhile, Laois-based Cara Rescue dogs confirmed on Friday that they contacted the Styles knackery following the TV programme. The Cara group said: “They have told us that no more dogs will enter their premises and all inquiries will be redirected to us, with the aim of the dog coming to rescue. Anyone who wants to apply to foster an ex-racer dog can email [email protected] requesting an adoption application form.”
In the wake of a nationwide outcry following the programme, the Irish Greyhound Board announced plans that will make it illegal to euthanise a greyhound by any means other than by a vet. It also said it plans to increase support for finding new foster homes for greyhounds and introduce an injury support scheme for racers.
On Sunday, minister for agriculture Michael Creed said the industry must refocus its priorities away from breeding and on to animal welfare if it was to continue receiving state funding, which currently stands at €16m a year. He also promised “an immediate review” of the issuing of licences to knackeries.