Board seeks providers for greyhound ‘retirement homes’
Proposed care centres will have to cater for ‘socialisation’ of old and injured animals
A protest in Dublin on Saturday against cruelty to animals in the greyhound racing industry. Photograph: Alan Betson
New “care centres” to look after old and injured greyhounds will be required to provide facilities for them to have contact with “cats and rabbits”.
The Irish Greyhound Board, which regulates the greyhound racing industry, has issued a tender seeking providers of so-called “retirement homes” for racing greyhounds that will include secure kennels and exercise facilities and the task of finding new homes for the animals.
A list of specifications for potential operators of the care centres includes the requirement to provide facilities for the “socialisation” of greyhounds to include contact with other pets including cats and rabbits.
The tender is a response by the commercial semi-State body to the recent controversy over the treatment of non-racing greyhounds including animal cruelty and the euthanisation of healthy dogs which was highlighted in a RTÉ Investigates programme broadcast in June.
The documentary found that 16,000 greyhounds are born every year in the Republic but almost 6,000 are killed because they fail to make qualification times or are past their peak performance.
The proposed care centres will be required to provide facilities to allow greyhounds to have access to a “home type environment” and a visitor room for potential adopters of the animals where they can also watch DVDs of greyhounds which have been rehomed.
The operators of the new centres must also provide 24-hour veterinary cover. They are required to arrange for greyhounds “to be introduced to children of all ages and children to be encouraged to walk and control the greyhound”.
In addition they should have a comprehensive plan in place for rehoming animals and to build contact with organisations that work with adults or children that are disadvantaged or have a disability.
Appearing before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture earlier this month, board chairman Frank Nyhan outlined a series of measures which the board proposed to introduce to improve the welfare of greyhounds including the provision of care centres “so that greyhounds can lead a healthy life after retirement”.
Welfare manager Barry Coleman said the initiative was intended to help the transition of racing greyhounds from the track to retirement.
“These care centres, along with our newly extended foster scheme and further financial supports for domestic rehomings, will ensure that as many retired Irish greyhounds as possible can find loving, forever homes after their racing careers come to an end,” he said.
The board said the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust assisted in the rehoming of more than 1,000 retired greyhounds last year.
In the tender documents, the board said it was under no obligation to commit to any level of business in the provision of care centres.
It also reserved the right to discontinue the procurement process for new care centre services at any time.
The board also retains control over the number of greyhounds that are kept at facilities.
It said it was its policy to seek continuous improvements over the duration of all contracts which are initially due to last a maximum of three years.
Other proposals for reform include a plan to impose a levy on attendance income, prize money and a percentage of all sponsorship to be paid into a new “care fund”.