DEPUTY Niall Collins says the Prime Time exposé on the greyhound industry was “deeply shocking”.
The RTE programme revealed up to 6,000 greyhounds are being killed each year because they are not fast enough. The Irish greyhound industry is breeding 1,000% more puppies than it needs, leading to a cull of thousands of racing dogs every year. Some of the scenes were deeply upsetting. Deputy Collins said animal welfare is a core belief of the vast majority of people and it’s as big as climate change.
“Following the airing of the programme I received a deluge of phone calls and emails from people outraged at what they saw. I have also detected a huge change in the political support that greyhound racing has enjoyed over the years. The challenge to the greyhound industry is plain and simple – deal with these issues comprehensively or face a complete cut in the public funding that’s received each year,” said Deputy Collins.
Greyhound racing is set to receive €16.8 million in funding this year with supports coming from the Department of Agriculture.
Deputy Collins asked Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed the actions he plans to take following the “recent revelations of animal cruelty in the RTE Prime Time Investigates programme into the greyhound industry”.
In reply to the Dail question, the minister said: “My department takes any allegations of breaches of animal welfare rules very seriously and will thoroughly investigate and take the necessary enforcement actions to deal with such offences. It is worth noting that the greyhound sector has undergone a series of reforms in recent times and the Greyhound Racing Act 2019 was signed by the President on May 2, 2019. This legislation strengthens the legal basis for the industry, with a view to fortifying the integrity of the greyhound racing sector and improving provision for greyhound traceability and welfare,” said Minister Creed, who pointed to Bord na gCon publishing the first steps of their action plan to strengthen traceability, rehoming and welfare standards by improved regulation, more inspections and the use of greater resources in these areas.
“Minister of State Andrew Doyle will be meeting with the board of Bord na gCon this week to discuss these issues and other measures that may be required to bring about comprehensive change in the sector.
“In addition, I will press for the swift implementation of their action plan, with a view to identifying what further tangible measures are required to address the issues of serious public concern raised in this programme,” said Minister Creed.
The Irish Greyhound Board said that it “strongly condemned” the practices outlined in Prime Time, “which highlighted the actions of a minority within the industry”. They have confirmed an increase in financial support to private rehoming agencies for the rehoming of retired racing greyhounds in Ireland, as well as the extension of the IGB scheme for foster care of retired racing greyhounds. They come into effect immediately.
A statement reads: A number of private greyhound rehoming organisations in Ireland currently receive financial support from the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust (IRGT), which is established and operated by the board. This support assists with the veterinary costs involved in preparing a retired greyhound for rehoming, neutering/spaying, a rabies shot and other vaccinations and inoculations. Rehoming agencies will now be offered an additional €100 per retired greyhound rehomed in Ireland to encourage and further facilitate domestic rehomings.” Furthermore, it is now the intention of the IGB to identify a wider pool of suitable foster homes to enable greyhounds to transition from their life on the track to domestic pets before moving on to their ‘forever homes’.
Persons interested in the fostering of retired racing greyhounds prior to their rehoming are asked to submit expressions of interest by post to the Irish Greyhound Board, Welfare Department, Limerick Greyhound Stadium, or email firstname.lastname@example.org