On the 21st of March 2017, Deputy Broughan will introduce the Welfare of Greyhounds (Amendment) Bill 2017 in conjunction with Dogs’ Trust Ireland. The Bill will amend the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 to provide for the control of export of greyhounds and for the publication of a white list to which the export of greyhounds under licence would only be permissible. This Bill will also make it an offence for persons to export greyhounds to countries not on the white list and will provide for related matters. Deputy Broughan would like to thank the staff at Dogs’ Trust for their terrific research and work on this timely Bill and for bringing this matter again to the legislature’s and the public’s attention.
Dogs’ Trust has been operational here since 2005 and is the biggest dog welfare charity in the country. Dogs’ Trust’s rehoming centre was opened in November 2009 and has rehomed over 7,000 dogs to date, with 2,853 dogs rehomed during 2015. Dogs’ Trust also work on educational programmes, campaigns and on policy to improve the welfare of dogs in Ireland. Dogs’ Trust is also a member of the International Greyhound Forum along with the ISPCA.
On the same day as Deputy Broughan’s introduction of the Bill, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, is reportedly to table the Greyhound Industry (Amendment) Bill at Cabinet. The Minister’s Bill will apparently focus on doping issues in the industry and is not expected to include a clause for a white list of countries which greyhounds can be exported to. Last April and May, there was a public outcry when reports confirmed that three Irish greyhounds had been exported to Macau, China to race in the infamous Canidrome. Around this time, 24 greyhounds were returned to Ireland from the UK after being stopped en route to China. There are reports that in the Canidrome unless a greyhound finishes in the top three in five consecutive races it is destroyed and there is also reportedly no adoption programme for retired greyhounds.
In response to the public outpouring of anger at the treatment of these greyhounds and the transport companies’ refusal to ship the dogs to China, Bord na gCon, the Irish Greyhound Board, issued a statement saying that “IGB has no control of events outside the jurisdiction of Ireland and does not have a role in regulating the export of greyhounds.” The statement went on to say “While IGB does not have a statutory remit in relation to export controls for greyhounds, we expect owners to apply the principles set out in the Code of Practice when exporting greyhounds in accordance with our guidance issued to the industry. Specifically, IGB advises all owners involved in the export of greyhounds to only export to destinations that provide the expected levels of greyhound care and management as defined in the Code.”
Deputy Broughan says “Replies I received last year on the issue of greyhounds being exported to China also echoed the same sentiment as the above statement, namely that Bord na gCon can merely advise owners to export only to countries with similar welfare standards. The Bill I am introducing with the strong support of Dogs’ Trust would put this requirement on a statutory footing. When such a Code already exists why would anyone not support a Bill that will just enshrine such standards into law? This is a simple step that can be taken to protect greyhounds born in Ireland and will supplement the Minister’s own Bill enhancing greyhound welfare within Ireland.
I also commend RTÉ Prime Time and Sharon Ní Bheoláin for the recent “Gone to the Dogs” programme which aired on the 9th of March and exposed the serious problems with doping and welfare in the industry. Much work needs to be done on this matter, especially since the taxpayer has propped up the industry to the tune of €100 million since 2010. Given the continued existence of greyhound racing, I hope that, at least, we can ensure improved lives for greyhounds in Ireland and for those that may be exported abroad.”