Tuesday, 28 July 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
638. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the actions being taken to improve animal welfare in the greyhound industry here and in countries to which they are exported; and if he will report on the progress being made. [18338/20]
Bord na gCon is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry. Bord na gCon (BnG) is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
My Department devotes considerable resources to protecting animal welfare and in dealing with breaches of legislation. The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 applies to all animals, including greyhounds. The Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 further protects their welfare and empowers officers of BnG to inspect premises where greyhounds are kept. A confidential phone line and email has been set up for the public to report any alleged welfare breaches.
The Greyhound Racing Act 2019 strengthens the current sanctioning regime and addresses doping and integrity. This Act also makes provision for a traceability system, which is being prioritised by BnG, and will enable lifetime tracing for every racing greyhound.
My Department also works closely with animal welfare charities. I welcome the initiative of the Dogs Trust in facilitating the International Greyhound Forum, which includes the ISPCA and BnG.
With regard to the exportation of greyhounds, the rules covering the movement of all breeds of dogs, including greyhounds, between EU Member States is currently set at a European level.
BnG has informed me that it continues to advise owners to only export to destinations that provide the expected levels of greyhound welfare in its Code of Practice in the Care and Welfare of the Greyhound, a view which I fully endorse. I have received assurances from BnG that it is committed to the expansion of the Code of Practice to include advice on best practice when exporting greyhounds. In addition, the International Greyhound Forum continues to give consideration to issues relating to the export of greyhounds.
The Strategic Plan of Bord na gCon for the period 2018-2022 has as welfare as a key priority. BnG have detailed significant progress made in implementing an extensive Care & Welfare Programme in the last 12 months, for example; the opening of BnG's first Care Centre in early July 2020, introduction of an Injury Support Scheme to provide financial support where a greyhound is injured at a racing event, introduction of financial incentives for domestic re-homings of racing greyhounds and a partnership with Greyhound Pets of America which led to number of US re-homings in 2019.
BnG introduced a Care Fund with effect from September 2019 whereby 10% of all admissions. 10% of restaurant packages, 5% of tote profits and 50% of all sponsorships are directly attributed to the Care Fund.
My Department met with the Board of BnG numerous times since June 2019 and has received assurances that the Board remains committed to the protection of the integrity of the greyhound industry and to promoting the welfare of greyhounds and that all necessary resources are being committed to these ends.