Cruel Animal Sport: Rabbits and Dogs Suffer in “Live Hare Coursing”

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In 2010, people worldwide were appalled and sickened by photos and videos of the suffering and death of helpless wild rabbits (hares) and injuries to dogs at Ireland’s” live hare coursing” events. These were posted with the pleas of John Fitzgerald of Kilkenny County, Ireland, founder of Campaign to Abolish Cruel Sports, to help end this brutal “blood sport” in Northern Ireland

Animal lovers globally e-mailed their disapproval and disgust to government officials in Northern Ireland, demanding the permit NOT be granted again to allow these barbaric and atavistic events in which the terror and pain of innocent animals is exploited for the pleasure of hunters and gamblers.


On July 9, 2011, John Fitzgerald wrote:

“Last year the Northern Ireland Assembly (Regional Parliament) voted by a narrow margin to ban hare coursing after an incredibly heated debate...but banned it was, in that part of Ireland.

“This was in large part thanks to the campaign, including response by readers of the powerful article which was circulated, along with other material, to all members of the Northern Ireland Assembly!”


Ireland, known as The Republic of Ireland, is much larger than Northern Ireland and is considered a sovereign nation. Its capital is Dublin. Northern Ireland is considered part of the UK and its capital is Belfast. Both are on the same island, but Ireland covers about five-sixth of the island and consists of 26 counties, while Northern Ireland is comprised of only six counties.

Live hare coursing still is supported by some powerful politicians in the Republic of Ireland, despite being opposed by a majority of the Irish people according to opinion polls. Politicians in Ireland are very sensitive to negative global perception that can negatively impact trade and tourism, and they need to be reminded that consumers and tourists are sensitive to the way animals are treated in countries where they vacation or consider business agreements.

The Coalition to End Cruel Sports is asking for e-mails to Minister Jimmy Deenihan to end live hare coursing in the Republic of Ireland. ( )

Here is a video of hare coursing as practiced in Ireland:


Hare coursing is a “blood sport” in which pairs of greyhounds are set loose to chase captive wild rabbits (hares) within a wire-enclosed field. There is heavy gambling on the outcome of each race or "course.” The dog that is first to "turn" the hare (divert it from its straight run to the opposite end of the enclosure) is declared the winner in each race. Points are awarded for various other aspects of each greyhound's performance in chasing the hare.

Though the stated intention is not specifically to kill the hare, most of the animals are inevitably either injured, through mauling or being literally tossed into the air by the dogs, or after the coursing event they often die from Capture Myopathy, a condition that affects a number of wild species, including the Irish Hare.

Each year, coursing clubs use nets to capture thousands of innocent wild rabbits for these events. Some hares die during capture, becoming entangled in the nets and breaking bones etc. These are either killed because they are unable to run or they are used to "blood" greyhounds as part of their training. This involves feeding them live to the dogs.

In captivity, many hares also die, of diseases resulting from the cramped and unnatural conditions in which they are kept.

From beginning to end, hare coursing is immensely cruel and completely against Nature...the animals are snatched from their natural habitat and "trained" as the coursing officials call it, to run in a straight line. At the actual coursing events, the rabbits (hares) must run for their lives so that spectators can gamble and cheer on the competing dogs.

The hare is deemed a mere pawn in the whole game--a plaything that serves as live bait for the dogs. Its terror as it seeks to evade the hyped-up greyhounds is a source of mirth and entertainment to the audience.


Each year, the Irish Government must grant a special license that permits coursing clubs to capture hares for this appalling “blood sport". Without that license, hare coursing would cease. The decision as to whether or not to grant the license must be made before the end of August, as the netting (capturing) usually begins in September.

John Fitzgerald writes:

“We are appealing to the relevant Government Minister NOT to grant the license this year and are asking you to join us in making that appeal. We want him to follow the example of Northern Ireland, which outlawed hare coursing last year.”

If your feel this is a cause worthy of a few minutes of your time, please send a brief letter or email to Mr. Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts and Culture, Dail Eireann, Dublin 2, Ireland, asking him simply NOT to issue the license that will permit hares to be captured for another season of live hare coursing in the Irish Republic.

You can email the Minister at

(Note: John Fitzgerald is also the author of the best-selling book, Bad Hare Days, and can be contacted at )


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