Animal Voice, Summer 2004
Section 4 - Pages 22-28

Campaign against fur farming intensifying

The campaign against fur farming in Ireland is now gathering momentum, writes Sinead O'Brien of Compassion in World Farming.

CIWF and the UK's Respect for Animals have launched a disturbing new video showing undercover footage filmed on fox and mink fur farms in Ireland.

Fur farming involves the keeping of mink and foxes in rows of cramped, barren, wire mesh cages in which their natural behaviour is very severely impeded.

In the wild, fox and mink are highly complex territorial animals. Mink are semi-aquatic and choose home ranges of 1-6km, always near water. Arctic and red fox (both of which are farmed in Ireland - the red fox in its silver colour variant) roam over wide territories, with Arctic foxes often migrating more than 100km in one season, travelling to the Arctic coastline and onto ice flows in search of food.

It is a far cry from the wretched 6-month-life of incarceration mink and fox have to endure on Irish fur farms. Unlike other farm animals, these animals are essentially wild. They have been selectively bred for pelt quality rather than for adaptation to captivity.

Fox in cramped cage
Confined to a cage, this unfortunate fox is one of thousands forced to endure a life of misery on Irelandís fur farms. (Photo © Respect for Animals)

The serious animal welfare problems associated with fur farming have been well documented. They include fox and mink performing repeated, meaningless behaviour, such as pacing around their cage over and over again, caged fox killing their young and farmed mink biting and sucking their own fur or even self-mutilating their tails and limbs.

Viewers of RTE's Prime Time recently were horrified to discover that not only is this practice still legal in Ireland but that fox farms do not even require a licence. Fur farming became illegal in Northern Ireland and throughout the UK on 1st January 2003. The Republic of Ireland must be next.

CIWF are therefore delighted with the publishing in February of the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Bill 2004 by the Green Party.

This is a very positive first step in the legislative process and sets down in writing for the first time the legal wording for a ban.

However, the support of the government is required for this Bill to pass through several stages in the Dail and Seanad and ultimately to become law.

Fur farming is of negligible value to the Irish economy, produces a non-essential fashion product, and causes untold suffering, frustration and distress. Help us to make sure the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Bill 2004 becomes law and stops fur farming in this country forever.


Please write to all your local TDs (either at their local constituency offices or at Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2) and ask them to support this Bill.

Also please write to Joe Walsh, Minister for Agriculture & Food, Agriculture House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Call on him to enact a ban on fur farming, either by supporting the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Bill 2004 or by introducing similar legislation himself.

Visit for more information on this campaign.

Blooding at County Louth greyhound track denied

The management of Dundalk greyhound racing track deny that a staff member at their track had been fired because of allegations related to early morning blooding sessions at the track.

No specific reason was given by the manager of the track, other than that he was "unhappy with his work".

Blooding is an illegal practice whereby hares, rabbits and kittens are thrown to greyhounds to tear apart. Many believe that without being introduced to the kill and getting the taste of blood, greyhounds would be less enthusiastic about chasing the mechanical lure in greyhound racing or the live lure in coursing.

In an article on June 8th, Irish Independent sports journalist and greyhound racing commentator, John Martin, wrote that there were allegations of 6am trials at the track and the use of live hares to blood greyhounds for licensed track trainers.

The Dundalk track, which is licensed by Bord na gCon, is thought to have received grants between €4 million and €12 million (taxpayers' money). Management at the track say the figure is €4 million but Bord na gCon contend that it was up to €12 million to build a new track.

During an Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee meeting in April, Bord na gCon's Chief Executive said that blooding is not condoned. However, responding to a statement from Green TD Dan Boyle that it could happen without their knowledge, he conceded that "anything can happen without one's knowledge".

Blooding in the Irish greyhound industry was best summed up by John Martin in 1994. His frank and shocking article followed an infamous blooding case in Tipperary, when investigative journalist, Donal McIntyre, filmed greyhounds being blooded with live rabbits at a private track.

In the article, Martin stated that "the bald truth is that greyhound racing would not continue to exist without blooding. It follows that, with a constant greyhound population of close on 30,000, blooding must be widespread."


Demand a Dail committee of inquiry into all aspects of the greyhound industry and a suspension of all government grant aid in the interim. Please contact Minister John O'Donoghue (who has responsibility for the greyhound industry) at: Department of Arts, "Sports" and Tourism, Frederick Buildings, South Frederick St, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-631 3802. Email:

Donegal track tops dog doping league

Bord na gCon have admitted a greyhound doping problem within the industry according to a report in the Irish Independent in May.

The admission came during the board's appearance at an Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee meeting. They also had to admit that they were badly behind schedule in dealing with greyhound doping offences.

Lifford greyhound racing track had the highest number of positive results to tests for illegal drugs for dogs, the committee was told. Of the 79 cases of drugged greyhounds detected last year at tracks around the country, Lifford came out on top with 17 positives.

Claiming that the worst offenders are in Northern Ireland, Bord na gCon attributed the high number of offences at Lifford to the presence of dogs which originate from across the border. Drug testing is less stringent in the North, they said.

The Public Accounts Committee were taken aback when the Bord na gCon representatives told them that its disciplinary body had not yet dealt with the 79 cases. Not surprising really, considering that the members of the disciplinary body had just been appointed the day before the Public Accounts hearing!

The PAC also heard how a staggering €50,000 was paid to consultants, Price Waterhouse Coopers, for a three year investigation into the purchase of a new generator at Shelbourne greyhound track (estimated to have cost €70,000) and which was discovered not to be new.

And in a further, more deeply embarrassing revelation, it was highlighted how a Bord na gCon official had placed "substantial" bets on two greyhounds which subsequently tested positive for drugs.

"There is no suggestion that the official knew in advance that the greyhounds had been drugged to ensure that they would win the races which took place on the same card," wrote John Martin in his Irish Independent Dog Chat column.

Blood sport opposition has Catholic tradition

Opposing the cruelty involved in hunting is in line with a substantial Catholic tradition, writes Deborah Jones of Catholic Concern for Animals.

Kindness, not cruelty, to animals is a heritage of the Desert Fathers, Celtic saints, St Francis, Philip Neri and many others who anticipated in their treatment of animals the glorious restoration of paradise as described in Isaiah's vision (Chapter 11).

Simply put, cruelty to animals is, as Bishop Bellord stated in A New Catechism of 1901, a "very cowardly and disgraceful sin". More recently, the Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs us that, as animals are God's creatures, we owe them kindness, and should recall the gentleness with which saints treated them.

Whereas, as with the rest of nature, we might make use of them, our "dominion over other living things" is "not absolute" (n.2415) nor "to be an arbitrary and destructive domination" (n.373).

We cannot treat them just as we like. There is the aspect of our "stewardship" over them - by which we are to reflect the manner of governance of the Creator himself. Made in His image, human beings have to reflect that image as they go about caring for His world.

Christ, the one true image, dwelt at peace with the wild animals during his 40 days in the wilderness - just as he brought peace and harmony to the natural order in miracles to give a glimpse of what heaven is like. Is that commensurate with hunting?

Dutch theologian, Dr Marie Hendrickx, of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith considers that "we must repeat with the Catechism that man is not justified in 'causing animals to suffer needlessly'. He should therefore refrain from doing so if he can avoid it, or if there are no serious reasons for doing so."

Hunting foxes is not an unavoidable necessity, and there is an alternative. The excitement of a bracing, dangerous ride can be enjoyed over a course skilfully set by people with a scented drag, or after volunteer harriers running before the pack. What is missing would be the kill.

Human dignity is surely compromised by the pleasure displayed by members and followers of a hunt at the grisly kill. Without foxhunting, no one would have their faces blooded as an initiation rite; no fox's face would be presented by the Master to the first man at the kill, or brush (fox's tail) to the first woman, or the four footpads to the first four children. None of that barbarism.

Hunting, called by the poet William Cowper, a "detested sport that owes its pleasures to another's pain", has, in the words of one former Master of Hounds, Robert Churchward, "absolutely no justification - moral or otherwise".

Is that freedom "of the human person" to hunt of sufficient weight to support its continuation as a legal right? Catholic tradition and teaching would suggest not. Ban it - totally and completely.

The Catholic Concern for Animals website can be found at:

Dalai Lama issues anti-hunt statement

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, has stated that hunting for sport is contrary to the teachings of the Buddhist religion.

He was making a particular appeal for a cessation of trophy hunting in Mongolia, where safaris are being promoted to kill snow leopards, Bactrian camels and other species.

"I am deeply saddened to learn that Mongolia encourages trophy hunting of rare and endangered species for tourism," the Dalai Lama wrote.

"We all know that taking others' lives is generally against the Buddhist principles. How can we destroy and play with the lives of animals merely for fun, pleasure and sports? It is unthinkable."

"Tibet, as a Buddhist country, in the past had banned hunting of animals in any form," the exiled leader added.

Foxhunt priests are committing a "serious sin"

A homily given by Bishop Pat Buckley in Larne has condemned those who hurt animals for sport.

"To hurt or neglect an animal unnecessarily or for sport or fun is immoral and quite simply, in God's eyes, it is a very serious sin," Bishop Buckley stated.

He went on to make particular reference to two Catholic priests in Clare and Cavan who are involved in foxhunting.

"For sport and fun, these priests went out with their hunt colleagues and packs of dogs. They chased wild foxes until they dropped and watched as the hounds pulled the poor creatures to bits. What a leisure recreation for a priest. I think it is a strange pastime for any Christian man or woman."

"God created the animal kingdom and God loves that which he has created," he added. "When God revealed the 10 Commandments, he didn't say 'Thou shalt not kill humans', he simply said 'Thou shalt not kill'. In the book of Genesis, God charged Adam and Eve (and through them, all of us) to be stewards of creation and the custodians of animals."

Bishop Pat Buckley writes a weekly column in the Irish News of the World.

Silence from bishops on blood sports

Despite repeated requests over the past year, it remains unclear what the bishops of Ireland said about blood sports at their summer 2003 meeting.

It was confirmed to ICABS that the issue was definitely discussed but although we were told that "a short statement will probably be issued in September 2003", the specifics of the meeting have never been revealed.

Supporters will recall that the discussion came following ongoing complaints from ICABS relating to members of the clergy:

* attending coursing meets,
* partaking in foxhunts and/or
* blessing hunt hounds.

ICABS will continue to press the Catholic Communications Office to reveal what was said at the meeting. We will also continue to call for a church ban on members of the clergy involving themselves in blood sports and other forms of cruelty to animals.


Please urge the Catholic Communications Office to clarify the Catholic Church's policy regarding members of the clergy partaking in blood sport activities. Mr Martin Long, Director, Catholic Communications Office, St Patrick's College, Maynooth, Co Kildare. Tel: 01 505 3000 Fax: 01 601 6413 Email:

Mercy for animals: Bush speechwriter

A speechwriter for US President, George Bush, has called on religious people to show more mercy towards animals.

Quoted in the Washington Post in May, Matthew Scully said: "Religious people...hold a kind and merciful view of life, the faith of the broken, the hounded, the hopeless. Yet too often, they will not extend that spirit to our fellow creatures."

Author of the 2002 book "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy", Scully also believes that "it is wrong to inflict needless cruelty on animals for profit and to use wildlife and farm animals as 'resources' no different from wood and steel."

Although the president does not embrace these views, Scully has been described by the US Humane Society as "a hero to animal advocates [who has] a positive impact".

Priests spotted at Clonmel coursing

A Sunday World journalist has reported the presence of priests at the national coursing finals in Clonmel in February.

"I spotted a couple of priests in the crowd and was surprised when a seasoned campaigner told me that the clergy are huge into [coursing]," wrote Amanda Brunker.

ICABS finds it disgraceful that these priests - who are supposed to be setting a good example to their parishioners - find it appropriate to support animal cruelty events.

We have brought this to the attention of the Catholic Communications Office and reminded them that paragraph 2418 of the Catechism states that "it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer and die needlessly."

Bramble: The story of a rescued badger cub

In March 2004, Badger Watch Ireland welcomed an adorable little visitor to their headquarters in Waterford. The badger cub, just a few weeks old, had recently been orphaned and was in need of some urgent attention.

Badger Watch's National Co-ordinator, Bernie Barrett, took responsibility for the care of the cub and there began the intensive process of keeping the delicate creature alive and directing him slowly back towards the wild again.

What follows is Bernie's account of her experiences with the badger who became affectionately known as Bramble...

Bramble was about 2-3 weeks old when he was brought here ten weeks ago. He was found abandoned in a field. His mother may have been killed on the road or their sett may have been deliberately destroyed.

He was so tiny that he had to be fed on a bottle normally used for orphaned kittens. He was fed every 2-3 hours, including during the night. Badgers are allergic to cow's milk so a replacement (Lactol) was used. He was weighed daily. Feeds were reduced when he was big enough to take the regular baby bottle.

Close-up photograph of badger's head and paw
Rescued badger cub, Bramble, relaxes against Bernieís arm. (Photo: Andrew Kelly)

Bramble (reluctantly) started taking solid food when he was 8 weeks old. Badgers are omnivores so they can eat almost anything. His usual meal in the evening consists of dry dog food soaked in warm water. Because he's still very young, it may be too strong for him so rice crispies are added. He'll take most fruits, vegetables and also cereals, pasta, eggs, bread, etc. His favourite treats are chocolate (badgers are very sweet-toothed), sausages and tomatoes but his diet is varied from day to day.

The skin of cubs becomes very dry and may break so Bramble was covered in baby oil every day.

Bramble now weighs 12.05lbs but that may increase to about 3 stone when he's a fully grown boar.

In the wild, his diet will consist mainly of earthworms. Badgers will eat about 200 earthworms in a night's foraging. They also eat beetles, slugs and all types of insects and small rodents. Badgers are nocturnal animals and are rarely seen in daylight.

Bramble is now ready to go to his new home in the country where other Badger Watch members will care for him. There, he'll be prepared for returning to the wild. He'll be walked regularly and familiarised with the territory around his new home. Human contact will be kept to a minimum and one person only will have responsibility for caring for him.

When autumn arrives he'll be free to come and go as he pleases. The decision to remain will be his.

Badger Watch (Ireland) was founded in 1989 and campaigns for the protection and conservation of Ireland's badger species. It is an NGO funded by subscriptions/donations from its members. Website:

Bernie holding Bramble in her two hands
Bernie Barrett with Bramble. (Photo: Andrew Kelly)

Things they said: Campaign quotes from the past few months

"The Carbery Hunt paid their annual visit to Butlerstown on Saturday last...Near Seacourt Pound a fine dog fox was first up, which took the pack eastwards behind Butlerstown village, down through Ballyangley and on to Shanagh where he met his doom...In all a most exciting and pleasurable day's hunting." (The Southern Star, 31st January 2004).

"...a fox can keep ducking in and out of close-knit coverts so it is a case of getting your hounds close on a fox so that you give him no respite and keep him on the move." (The Irish Field, 3rd January 2004).

"We hunted a fox as fast as we could go for 1 hour and 20 minutes. All the time we could hardly keep the hounds in sight as the snow was falling so heavily." A foxhunter describing his "best hunt" outing. (The Irish Field, 31st January 2004).

"Here we got a marvellous view of a smallish dark red fox with a good white tag crossing the winter barley, all in the winter sunshine. Hounds were only seconds behind..." (From a report on the Coolnakilla Harriers, The Irish Field, 10th January 2004).

"Probably one of the most enjoyable hunts was on foot last year when we had a joint-meet with Macroom Foot Foxhounds at Tullylease on St Patrick's Day. We had a run of about 14 miles as the fox just ran on and on." (The Irish Field, 7th February 2004).

"The pack [Bray Harriers] went over to draghunting due to the increase in fast roads and built-up areas." (The Irish Field, 14th February 2004).

"Foot followers stayed with the three couple of hounds and got a great view of a smashing red fox as he crossed the Cullenagh Road. He wasn't exactly rushing and took a minute to look back to see where the hounds were. Little did he know that they had accounted for [killed] one of his relations on the way and now had him in their sights." (Report on the Limerick Harriers Hunt, Irish Field, 21st February 2004).


Bloody Trails
by John Amsden

Riotous heralding of thund'ring slayers
In train with the yelping of the forward-
Driven hounds, bounding and jumping
With servants the players
Their message and clamour relayed
In the woodlands or ditches and dykes
In field and in hedgerow where the few
Hide from the furious ride where
so many dismayed.

In minutes or hours the screams will go
In bloodletting done on the yet bloody scene
In silent suffering the shame is not there
For the death and agonies much piteous slow
And as the sun goes down
there are few to mourn
Only the animals cannot understand more
For they know instruments of torture are in
Human hands and theirs is the
grief of each shining morn.

by John Amsden

Far now the blood sodden ground
Where the lives of many found
Their sanctuary in years a'bye
But now the sound of hooves will sound

And the horn blast sound
And crack of whips are bound
For earth barely browned
In no leaf gowned

And as the light filters in the wood
The screams and yelps do not resound
In the hush of evening gone
Their suffering is not understood

Nature erased for "the common good"
Soon the sward where these trees stood
A bare coffin where bare a bird does hop
Or chant a memory lost,
a ghost where grief is but absurd.

from Red Coats by Frank Murphy

The sound of horses' hooves
Bridles, snorts and shouts
The creak of leather.

Red Coats
Running along the country lane
Strung out in autumn sunshine
The colour of
blood filing past.

Coca-Cola to remove banner from bullring

Further to appeals from the Irish Council Against Blood Sports and Anti Bullfighting Committee Netherlands, Coca-Cola have announced that an advertisement banner will be removed from a Spanish bullring.

The banner was photographed at Barcelona's last remaining bullfighting venue, La Monumental.

In a letter to Coca-Cola's UK office in April, ICABS wrote: "We hope that Coca-Cola will remove this banner and disassociate itself from a venue of animal cruelty. It would be a very welcome move, particularly at a time when campaigners all over the world are celebrating Barcelona City Hall's recent declaration that the city is now an anti-bullfighting city."

ICABS is delighted to report that Coca-Cola have reacted positively to our appeal.

"The banner belongs to our bottling partners Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd and the agreement is between them and the stadium rather than the organisers of bullfighting," stated Consumer Information Manager, Bernice Sayer. "However, the Coca-Cola Company has a policy in force stating that our operations would not associate itself where there is a risk of physical harm to animals, and therefore I have asked that the banner be removed during bullfighting events."

ICABS thanks the Coca-Cola Company for this response.

Banner hanging from balcony in bullring
Monumental victory: The advertisement banner which Coca-Cola promise to have removed during bullfighting in La Monumental. (Photo: Saskia Oskam)

Madonna and bird shooting

The Sunday Express has revealed that Madonna has been allowing shooting parties to take place on her 1,100 acre country estate in Wiltshire, England.

Shoots cost £10,000 per day and those taking part are permitted by Madonna and husband, Guy Ritchie, to shoot 300 birds per day.

Madonna has reportedly taken private shooting lessons so that she can accompany Ritchie on the shoots. Celebrity guests to have visited the estate to gun down birds include Brad Pitt and courser, Vinnie Jones.

Your subscriptions are vital

A big thank you to all our supporters who sent in annual subscriptions and donations following the last edition of Animal Voice in January.

We very much want to stay in touch with all subscribers on our database in order to keep you all informed about our campaign issues. To do this, we need your subs coming in to cover the cost of printing, postage, and indeed our campaign in general.

Please continue to support us. If your subscription is due, please consider renewing it. Your subscription renewal date appears above your name and address on the envelope.

Subscriptions and/or donations will be very much appreciated. You may wish, for convenience, to pay by standing order. A standing order form is enclosed along with the standard subscription form.

If your subscription is not yet due for renewal, please consider passing on the enclosed forms to a friend. Thank you.


Animal Voice is published by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, PO Box 88, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Ireland. Tel/Fax: 044-49848. Email: . Website: Editorial Team: Philip Kiernan and Aideen Yourell. Layout and Design: Philip Kiernan. Contributors: John Amsden, Bernie Barrett, Deborah Jones, Andrew Kelly, Philip Kiernan, Frank Murphy, Sinead O'Brien, Saskia Oskam, Dick Power, Mike Rendle, Aideen Yourell. Please pass Animal Voice on to a friend when you are finished with it. Thank you.

Sections: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Full Contents (1-4)

Contents | Subscribe | Top | Home