Today during Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Tommy Broughan again asked for the welfare of greyhounds being exported to be further regulated and improved. It is just over a year since Deputy Broughan introduced the Welfare of Greyhounds (Amendment) Bill 2017, which was to provide for a white list of countries to which the export of greyhounds under licence would be permissible. It would also make it an offence for persons to export greyhounds to countries not on the white list.
The Government’s own Greyhound Industry Bill 2017 is due to be enacted later this year and Dogs Trust, the ISPCA and other animal welfare groups have called for the white list to be included in the Greyhound Industry Bill by way of amendment. Deputy Broughan has raised the fate of exported greyhounds many times in Dáil Éireann and has been consistently told that “the main destination for Irish dogs and greyhounds moved abroad continues to be the UK” and that there is “no evidence” of Irish dogs being sold outside of the EU. Yet, Irish dogs continue to be identified in countries with little or no animal welfare standards.
Deputy Broughan has also called for EU-wide and international co-operation to curb the practice of selling greyhounds outside of the EU, to countries with little or no animal welfare standards. During 2016, official Dog Control figures show that there a total of 284 greyhounds entered pounds. Of these 284, 46 were strays, 234 were surrendered and 4 were seized. Just 15 were reclaimed (7) or rehomed (8), 115 were transferred to Dog Welfare Groups, 152 were euthanized and 1 died by natural causes. Of the 284, the vast majority are from Kerry (72), Limerick (67) and Tipperary (46). According to the website of the Greyhound Rescue Association of Ireland (GRAI), more than 10,000 racing greyhounds are unaccounted for each year.
Deputy Broughan says “On trying to ascertain how many greyhounds are being exported to the UK, I was been told that “there are no requirements or facilities for recording the breed of dog as part of the export certification process. Once animal health and welfare certification requirements are met, all dogs, including greyhounds, may be exported from Ireland”. Given the apparent importance of the greyhound industry here, how is it possible that the Department is not monitoring the numbers of greyhounds being exported? It seems it is easier for the Government to claim ignorance in developing policy and legislation when one does not know the full scale of the problem. I fully support Dogs Trust ‘Greywatch’ campaign, calling on members of the public to consider adopting greyhounds and lurchers as they are more likely to be left behind in rehoming centres. I am also calling on the Minister to accept the white list amendment to his Bill”.