Thursday, 20 December 2018
Greyhound Racing Bill 2018: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage
This relates to section 27, dealing with the administration of substances in greyhounds.
Section 27(1) sets out a number of obligations on the board but uses the word "may". It says "The Board may, after consultation with the Minister, make regulations for the control, restriction, prohibition or administration of substances to a greyhound in relation to the following". It goes on to set out the specific measures the board may take, including "specifying substances or classes of substances to be prohibited or controlled" and the "testing of a greyhound for the presence of performance affecting substances". I argue it should state "the board shall" test rather than "the board may" test. It also includes "listing substances or classes of substances that may not be administered to a racing greyhound." It goes on to refer to "listing substances" and "setting residue limits." I have tabled another amendment that deals with that. The section also refers to "providing for the periods following the administration of a substance". They are all discretionary tools that the board may undertake. They are outlined in the legislation. Many of the issues that have been raised with me about the administration of drugs to greyhounds are with regard to animal welfare and around the very unfair situation that exists from an economic standpoint. It is causing the industry to fall into serious disrepute. It raises questions about the ethics of the industry and the manner in which dogs are treated. On Committee Stage I referred to substances such as beta blockers, cocaine, morphine and Ritalin, which are being administered to greyhounds. They are also being administered anti-malaria drugs and caffeine, as well as all sorts of other human drugs such as those used for the treatment of human hair loss. All of these substances are being fed to racing greyhounds to either make them go faster or slow them down. We have an opportunity in the legislation to deal with the issue from a racing and animal welfare perspective. We should be instructing the board it shall and must undertake a vigilant overview of the area, rather than providing it with discretion. We know what history has taught us. To date, the board has not fulfilled its obligations around this issue. It has allowed the issue of drugs in the greyhound sector to reach the point it has. It is causing regular owners and breeders in the sector to lose all hope. The industry is in a depressed state. This is one of the things causing that. That is why I tabled amendment No. 22. I hope the Minister will be amenable to it.