Call for ‘white list’ of countries for export of Irish greyhounds

Government warned of ‘untracked, untraceable’ exports to deplorable animal welfare regimes

Dogs Trust has warned that controversy around cases such as the halting in the UK of the export of greyhounds from Ireland to China were seriously damaging to Ireland’s animal welfare reputation. Photograph: iStock

The Government is under pressure to create a “white list” of countries that meet minimum animal welfare standards to allow the export of greyhounds.

The issue was raised during agricultural questions in the Dáil in the wake of reports that significant numbers of greyhounds were last year exported directly from Ireland to Pakistan and China where the animal welfare regimes have been condemned.

Minister of State for Agriculture Andrew Doyle said nine greyhounds were exported directly to China from Ireland last year. But he said information from the department's local offices "indicates that no greyhounds have been exported directly" to either China or Pakistan this year to date.

Independent TD Tommy Broughan has introduced the Animal Welfare (Amendment) Bill on behalf of animal charity Dogs Trust. The charity warned the Oireachtas agriculture committee recently that controversy around cases such as the halting in the UK of the export of greyhounds from Ireland to China were seriously damaging to Ireland's animal welfare reputation.


Twenty four greyhounds were stopped at Heathrow Airport last year while being exported to China because their cages did not meet transport requirements.

The incident resulted in demonstrations outside the Irish embassy in London and calls from worldwide animal welfare organisations for the Government to ban the export of greyhounds to China for racing at Yat Yeun Canidrome in Macau, which Dogs Trust has described as “one of the most deplorable racetracks in the world” for its lack of animal welfare standards.

But the charity warned that many other dogs were being exported and were “untracked and untraceable”.

In a reply to a parliamentary question Mr Doyle stressed that the Irish Greyhound Board advised all owners of greyhounds to only export to destinations that provide the expected levels of greyhound care and management as defined in its code of practice.

The Minister added that department officials were examining the Bill on the merits of creating a white list of countries that treat greyhounds and dogs generally well.

Mr Broughan said 80 per cent of greyhounds in the UK were bred in Ireland and he said “there is great eagerness to create a white list” and to set an example for Britain.

The Minister told him that given the demand in some countries for this there was “a body of work” to be done by welfare organisations globally.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times