Robert the Greyhound speaks out to Matthew Moynihan about the ruff treatment of him and his canine colleagues
Robert the Greyhound has gained somewhat of a cult following on social media over the past nine months, especially in the fallout of the societal discourse stimulated by the RTÉ Investigates documentary that shook the nation in 2019. For a 21-year-old (in dog years) this young Greyhound has seen and done more than most other dogs his age and his adaptability to his conditions shows a marked resilience. Adopted by his owner Zoë-Louise Doyle-Neilon nine months ago, his life has changed utterly from a world of abuse as a coursing dog, where he was dumped after being deemed surplus to requirements to the home comforts of a loving owner and a not-so-secret romance with Molly the Greyhound. Greyhound adoption has changed his life. Sitting and chatting with me in Café Nero he gave off a relaxed, sociable and thoughtful vibe, pausing our conversation only to eat the occasional Dentastick and let me pet him. With Robert full to the brim with treats and me caffeinated to the gills things were always going to get pawlitical. Here is the conversation that followed.
Matthew: Robert, what is life like being a greyhound in Ireland today?
Robert: Well Matthew, it’s complicated. If you’re a rescued greyhound like me, then life is pretty sweet. But did you know that in Irish law, unlike most breeds of dog, greyhounds are classified as livestock? I’m certainly not saying I’m better than your standard cow, or sheep, although I do like to bark at them, but would you feel safe in a world where you were deemed a farm animal and could legally be euthanized after your master got the most out of you on the racetrack? Life is ruff if you’re a greyhound in Ireland today, but I continue to wag my tail with hopeful expectation for the day it will be better.
Matthew: What would make Irish life better for greyhounds like you and Molly, and can you comment on your celebrity romance?
Robert: To answer the first part of your question I believe stopping state-funding of Bord na gCon is the first step. The greyhound industry has been dying for years and attendance is falling asunder. In Budget 2020 the Irish Government will give €16.8m of taxpayer funding to Bord na gCon to counteract this lack of attendance. They talk about respecting animal welfare, but then fund animal cruelty on the side. I would call on Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed TD, to immediately halt state funding. Then I would call on the public to boycott greyhound tracks and join animal rights groups in their protests. That would be pawsome. If that were to happen then anything would be pawsible. As regards to Molly we’re a private couple but what I can say (as she’s very tall) is, to quote the philosopher Sir Mix-a-Lott, “I like big mutts and I cannot lie”.
Matthew: What can the students of UCC do to support Irish greyhounds like yourself?
Robert: The first thing UCC students can do is come and sign Greyhound Awareness, Cork’s petition to call on University College Cork to take a formal anti-greyhound industry stance in line with the University’s environmental and sustainability goals. I would ask the President of UCC. Professor Patrick G. O’ Shea to paws for thought and opt for the college, through EnviroSoc, to take a forceful and forthright stance in line with their goals. That’s the leashed you could do. Secondly, students can opt to take pawsession of their gambling habits before betting on Greyhounds in the bookmakers. Having spoken to the pup-arrazzi I hope the students of the University are now better informed as to how cruel the greyhound industry is to animals and the strong actions they can take to alleviate this cruelty. Finally, and perhaps most substantially, students could consider adopting a greyhound like me. Zoë’s choice to adopt me has changed my life, even though I keep her on a short leash. You could do the same.
The Irish Greyhound Board and Curraheen Park were both contacted for their response to this article by Motley, both however refused to comment.
You can follow Robert the Greyhounds journey here:
Donate to: https://grai.ie/donate/