Plans for a levy to fund greyhounds’ retirement

Chairman will criticise RTÉ allegations over welfare of animals in statement to Oireachtas committee

Last month, an RTÉ Investigates programme raised concerns over the treatment of greyhounds and the potential widespread culling of thousands of animals based on their performances. File photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Last month, an RTÉ Investigates programme raised concerns over the treatment of greyhounds and the potential widespread culling of thousands of animals based on their performances. File photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

A levy on the greyhound industry is set to be imposed in order to fund a “pension plan” and retirement homes for dogs when they finish racing, an Oireachtas committee is set to hear today.

In his opening statement to the Oireachtas agriculture committee, Irish Greyhound Board chairman Frank Nyhan will say that the IGB is advancing plans to institute a levy on attendance income, prize money and a percentage of all sponsorship to be paid into a “care fund” which will be managed through a trust with external appointees monitoring the care and welfare programme.

A levy paid at the time that dogs are registered in the national stud book will also “contribute towards a ‘pension plan’ for the greyhound in retirement”. The IGB is also proceeding with an immediate expression of interest for the provision of “greyhound care centres so that greyhounds can lead a healthy life after retirement”. These centres would be paid for by the care fund and by a contribution from owners.

Mr Nyhan will also say that he is open to engaging with the Government on the ringfencing for animal welfare of a set amount of money from the €16.8 million in state funding received by the industry each year.

Meanwhile, sanctions and notification requirements on the transfer of ownership of dogs are to be strengthened in an effort to improve the data available on the industry.

He will also say that the industry wants to introduce new rules on euthanasia which will stipulate that when necessary, such procedures should only be carried out by a qualified vet. This rule should apply to racing and coursing dogs, he will say.

Cullling

Mr Nyhan’s appearance at the committee follows the broadcast last month of an RTÉ Investigates programme which raised concerns over the treatment of dogs and the potential widespread culling of thousands of animals based on their performances.

Mr Nyhan will outline reasons why the board does not accept the programme’s assumption that almost 6,000 dogs which were unaccounted for from the 2009 greyhound pool were culled.

In a critique of a report commissioned by the IGB itself, Mr Nyhan will say that the “analysis was based on estimates and assumptions and lacked any empirical evidence base”.

The IGB chairman will also criticise aspects of the RTÉ programme, and claim that a “false impression” of the total spend on welfare by the industry was created. He will argue that the total spend on welfare and regulation will be close to €2 million this year.