Minister seeks to ringfence funding for greyhound welfare

Greyhound board approves measures to improve welfare of dogs after RTÉ exposé

The board will introduce a “greyhound injury support scheme”.

The board will introduce a “greyhound injury support scheme”.

 

The government is examining plans to force the greyhound industry to ringfence for animal welfare some of the €16.8 million in funding it receives from the State.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Andrew Doyle, who has responsibility for the industry, told The Irish Times that he and his officials are examining increased conditionality for the funding given to the greyhound industry from the horse and greyhound fund.

“If we want to improve the reputation and make it an enjoyable sport for everyone, we have to ringfence money to make sure it’s spent on welfare,” he said.

There have been calls to withdraw the funding totally, but he said doing so would “cause chaos with whatever dogs you have in the country. I shudder to think what would happen if it were suddenly stopped”.

Mr Doyle welcomed a package of reforms announced on Friday night by the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB), in the wake of a programme on RTÉ which revealed significant issues around the treatment and culling of dogs in the industry in Ireland.

The board of the IGB said it had approved the measures following a special meeting.

The board will introduce a “greyhound injury support scheme to provide financial assistance to aid injured greyhounds to continue with a healthy life”, as well as extending and increasing support for the foster care of greyhounds with the hope of identifying new foster homes within the state for greyhounds.

It also plans to revise the code of practice on the care of greyhounds to address retirement and transportation issues, as well as financially incentivising the rehoming of greyhounds through additional supports administered through the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust.

The IGB has also resolved to intensify its inspection regime of greyhound establishments, and prepare a statutory instrument to make it a legal requirement that the euthanasia of a dog be carried out by a veterinary practitioner. It will also look at strengthening traceability provisions, with the aim of devising a traceability model. A freephone line will be established to enable the reporting of welfare breaches for investigation.

The board has also instructed that the RTÉ Investigates programme be reviewed in depth by the executive of the IGB, and will ask RTÉ to provide it with all documented evidence gathered while making the programme so breaches of law can be pursued. It has committed to full cooperation in relation to prosecutions.

In a statement on Friday evening, IGB chairman Frank Nyhan said the actions in the programme were carried out by “an irresponsible minority” and “have no place in this sport and will not be tolerated. The IGB will continue to work with all agencies to ensure that such illegal activity is rooted out and those responsible are subject to prosecution for breaches of the law”.