Erin Hounds is a small registered charity based in the North of England where we rehome and rehabilitate Irish sighthounds (mainly greyhounds and lurchers) saved from danger in Ireland where our founder lives. We educate the public about the problems associated with the over-breeding of sighthounds for racing/field sports and promote sighthounds as pets.
Erin Hounds was founded in 2009 by Victoria Lyon. Victoria had many years experience of greyhound rescue in the UK but moved to Ireland hoping for a quieter life. Sadly, on arriving in Ireland she became aware of the massive over-breeding of greyhounds and lurchers there and the consequent abandonment and destruction of thousands of young dogs.
It is estimated (accurate figures are not kept by those involved) that about 10,000 greyhounds and lurchers die every year in Ireland as a result of racing and hare coursing. Greyhounds live 12 – 14 years but retire from racing at around 3 or 4 yrs old and many do not “make the grade” as racers when trialled at around 18months. Both groups are usually discarded since, in Ireland, the greyhound breed is generally not regarded as a pet. The majority are destroyed while some are used for repeated breeding, some sold to lurcher breeders and others exported to countries where welfare conditions are poor. Lurchers are bred for hunting, coursing, racing and traded; they often suffer poor treatment and are abandoned when no longer required. Dogs surrendered to pounds as unwanted are usually destroyed within 24 hours, whilst those found stray are given 5 days and if unclaimed are then destroyed. The scale of the problem is huge and Erin Hounds is one of the groups trying to make a difference to these neglected dogs.
Erin Hounds aims to place each dog in a home that is best suited to its needs and so we carry out careful home checks and assess the character of every dog in our care, wherever possible in a foster home. So far we have homed over 200 dogs and we are proud of our success rate in matching “the right dog to the right home”. All our dogs are micro chipped and neutered and we provide follow-up support to those who have rehomed a dog from ourselves. We are constantly fundraising to pay for kennelling fees, transport and veterinary costs, including caring for greyhounds abandoned with untreated racing injuries and lurchers hit by cars when stray. We regularly hold events to raise awareness of sighthound welfare issues and show how wonderful they are as pets by dispelling the common myths that they need lots of exercise or can never live with cats.
Last year, a welfare officer from the Galway Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals spotted a dejected greyhound at a horse fair, tied to a tree with a piece of rope. She was told that he was for sale for 60 Euros and if there were no takers he was to be “taken to the beach” on the way home (i.e. killed and his body dumped in the sea). On looking up his ear tattoos, he turned out to have raced over 80 times for his owners. His reward for this was to be sold to anyone for any purpose (even bait in dog fighting) or killed. Luckily for him, he was taken in by us here at Erin Hounds and made his way to the UK, where he has been homed with a loving family. This gentle boy is coming out of his shell now as a cherished pet and learning to have fun.
We have far too many similar stories of dogs in desperate circumstances like these, due purely to man’s greed. The ones we can rescue are just the tip of the iceberg. We help in any way we can as once you have seen the gratitude in the gentle eyes of a rescued Irish sighthound, you cannot turn a blind eye to their plight.