POPULAR entertainer Dara O’Briain – he of Mock the Week, Have I Got News For You and QI fame – is also a greyhound racing enthusiast.
He owned a dog, Snip Nua, which was featured in a BBC show, Three Men Go To Ireland, aired last Christmas.
What was not revealed until later was that Snip Nua had been injured in a race in Dublin two weeks earlier and had been put down.
She was aged 19 months.
Dara has said he no longer takes part in the sport, but greyhound activists believe otherwise and think that Snip Nua is unlikely to have been the comedian’s first loss, since (they say) he’s been involved in dog racing for at least a decade.
“The general public is not always aware of the abuse involved in greyhound racing and Dara's participation gave it a veneer of respectability it does not warrant,” says reader Kevin McClements. “He’s a nice guy, and it sends out the message that nice guys go to the dogs too.
“We hope he will see sense and ensure Snip Nua was his last dog and uses his popularity to let the public know what really happens at the dogs.”
The greyhound racing industry doesn’t appear to be very pleasant.
A major breeding ground for greyhounds is Ireland. Only the best are selected for racing.
About 15,000 never make it. They are put down – by vets, sometimes, but owners often decide to avoid vets’ fees and kill them themselves.
Your average greyhound, if it gets into the races, runs 50 times over three or four years, after which it’s usually destroyed.
It’s estimated that 10-13,000 dogs die or are abandoned each year.
Whichever way you look at it, this is appalling carnage. It doesn’t take account of on-track casualties: few race meets pass without at least one dog snapping part of a limb.
I’ve never been sentimental about pets and will probably never own one, but I’ve said time and time again that cruel exploitation of animals is unforgivable.
It would be nice to think on this occasion Dara will heed his critics.