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GTA: microchipping only at end of racing career

norah mcellistrim

Norah McEllistrim: "driven by Defra"

  PICTURE:Steve Nash  

GREYHOUNDS should only be micro-chipped at the end of their racing careers and not as a means of identifying them during it according to Norah McEllistrim, chair of the GrehyoundTrainers’ Association, who intends to convince those pushing the new technology of just that point.

“The trainers are very much against the micro-chipping of racing greyhounds,” she said. “Unfortunately, this isn’t a GBGB thing, it is being driven by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), but I have spoken to them and they are prepared to listen to any hard evidence we can present about the problems with micro-chipping.

“It boils down to Defra wanting to be able to trace greyhounds at the end of their racing careers, to know what has happened to them, so the obvious thing is for a greyhound to be micro-chipped when it comes to be retired. We would have no problem with that.

“But micro-chipping racing greyhounds lends itself to so many potential problems. The chips do move, there’s no proof that they don’t cause cancer and, when they are scanned, apparently there is as much radiation as there is with a mobile phone. That could happen 300-400 times during a greyhound’s career.

“It isn’t a fait accompli but we need to convince Defra of our case so I’d ask anyone who has access to hard evidence from places where they have micro-chipped, such as Australia and the USA, to get in touch with me via our website”

Leading owner Len Ponder intends to refuse to have his racing greyhounds micro-chipped at present. “Tony [Collett] is supposed to be getting his kennel done at Sittingbourne next week, but we’re going to hold off until this has all been explained better.

“Earmarks have worked well for all the years greyhound racing has been going so why change now? I can understand when they are retired, but I don’t want my racing greyhounds micro-chipped and will refuse if they try to force it.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Collett himself, who said: “There’s so much we don’t know and haven’t been told.

“For instance, when we have a greyhound with a plate in a hock, we’re told we can’t put them in a Magnetopulse box, can we do that with greyhounds that have been micro-chipped?

“The whole process needs properly explaining before we rush into it. Greyhounds might be animals, but they are like humans to us.”