"Man About Dog" film has got it wrong
08 October 2004
ICABS reviews a new Irish film which presents animal cruelty as comedy. The biggest laugh we got was when it claimed coursing was a majority activity with minority opposition.
Actor Sean McGinley, who plays the part of a crooked bookie in the newly released "Man About Dog", has called on people to go and see the film to see what coursing is "REALLY" like. So, I duly headed off to the film during the week to see if it would portray coursing as I know it.
The film is supposed to be a comedy, but it didn't amuse me in the slightest. As a person concerned with animal welfare, I didn't get any laughs from the cruelty depicted - a guy heading into the bushes with a shovel to kill a lurcher, a dog being shot on a farmer's request, a bird of prey shot at a game fair, a crow shot on the coursing field, a terrified cat used to lure greyhounds off the track to fix a race, a dog killed by a car and various greyhounds being administered drugs to make them run faster. There was nothing remotely funny or entertaining in this film for me. In my view, it portrayed the greyhound industry as a low-life world of callous cruelty and corruption - many who know the inside track on certain aspects of greyhound racing might well agree with that portrayal!
I found the scenes of coursing at Clonmel very interesting, especially when the narrator launched into a familiar explanation of how coursing works, i.e. it's not about killing hares, but turning the hare, and the hare gets into the escape "safe and sound".
Well, I have news for Sean McGinley and the producers of "Man About Dog" - that's not what it's "REALLY" like all the time, because hares don't always get into the escape area unscathed, and we have video footage to prove it - hares being hit by muzzled greyhounds, tossed into the air, pinned down, mauled and battered, resulting in injuries that lead to death in most cases. And, if Sean won't accept our film evidence, maybe he would accept official Department of Environment reports, obtained by us under the Freedom of Information Act, which clearly show that not a coursing season goes by without hares being injured and killed by greyhounds.
And not only that, many hares die of stress related illnesses. For example, out of a total of 80 hares captured from the wild for a coursing meeting in Wexford last December, 40 died in the compound. The vet, in his report, stated: "Hares being normally solitary animals are significantly stressed when corralled and coursed, and this combination of circumstances has resulted in the deaths in this case." (Please see articles below from the Summer 2004 edition of our Animal Voice newsletter).
Finally, it was also stated in the film that hare coursing was a major "sport" in Ireland with a minority opposed to it. Wrong way around - coursing is a minority activity, with the vast majority opposed, according to independent surveys carried out since the late seventies. The most recent poll, taken in 1998, showed a whopping 80 per cent, across town and country, opposed to coursing. (ICABS Campaign Director, Aideen Yourell)
Forty hares die at coursing meeting
Following the deaths of up to forty hares after a coursing meeting at New Ross, County Wexford, a veterinary surgeon cited stress as the cause.
Vet Peter A Murphy told the National Parks and Wildlife Service, in a letter last January, that "under the influence of stress, the hare's immune system is compromised and these organisms suddenly multiply rapidly to cause a severe clinical disease and ultimately death."
"Hares being normally solitary animals," Mr Murphy wrote, "are significantly stressed when corralled and coursed, and this combination of circumstances has resulted in the deaths in this case."
Post mortems had been carried out by Mr Murphy and the Regional Veterinary Laboratory, Kilkenny, after the hare deaths.
The ranger who monitored the coursing meeting stated in his report that "it was obvious that the hares were not in good condition".
There were eleven hares hit by dogs and six were dead by next morning. The following day, according to the ranger, it was the same, with hares "not willing" to run and four being hit by dogs.
ICABS asks the question, why was this meeting not stopped on day one when it was noted that the hares were obviously not in good condition?
This again highlights the utter callousness and cruelty of the coursers whose only priority is that their "sick" sport carries on, despite the suffering of the hares.
Hare injuries and deaths continue in coursing
Hares continue to be mauled, injured and killed at coursing meetings, according to National Parks & Wildlife Service reports.
The reports, filed by conservation rangers, were issued to ICABS Vice-president, Deputy Tony Gregory, in Dail Eireann.
Relating to the 32 coursing meetings observed by rangers (out of a national total of around 100), the reports show that 174 hares were "struck" with 41 hares injured while up to 46 hares died of so-called "natural causes".
Another clear indication that there is absolutely no way, despite claims by the Irish Coursing Club, that injuries and kills can be eliminated from coursing. It is as clear now as it ever was that the muzzling of coursing greyhounds has failed to save hares.
As regards the 124 hares out of 174 which survived being "struck" by muzzled dogs, they were documented by the rangers as having been returned to the wild after coursing. ICABS can only speculate on the welfare of these creatures.
All hares used as live lures, whether struck or not, are deeply stressed and traumatised by the experience, and their welfare seriously compromised.
Please keep the pressure on your local Dail/Senate representatives. Tell them that the time has come to finally rid Ireland of this cruel and unnecessary blood sport.
Ranger critical of pregnant hare coursing
In a memo from one National Parks and Wildlife Service official to another, "serious reservations" were expressed about "a vet allowing pregnant hares and hares which have just given birth to be coursed".
The conservation ranger who attended the Westmeath United coursing meeting in Raharney, Co. Westmeath, was told by a coursing club official that "some hares return to the coursing field after a coursing meeting as some give birth while penned up in the enclosure prior to the coursing meeting."
The ranger noted a small hare in the enclosure and was told by the coursing club official that it had been born there.
In the memo, Dr Linda Patton stated that "since these animals are protected and it seems that the populations may be declining, we should surely be aiming to protect the pregnant and suckling adults and their young with a view to conserving the species at a favourable conservation status."
Incredibly, according to the licence to net hares, there is no condition regarding the taking of pregnant hares. This points up again the gross interference by coursing clubs in the life cycle of a timid wild species and the state's willingness to continue licensing this abuse regardless.
This is another significant reason, among many, for an end to live hare coursing.
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