Department of Agriculture – Ireland – Bord na gCon Review
18 November 2013
This is a submission from the Greyhound Rescue Association of Ireland (GRAI), an active stakeholder concerned with the activities of Bord na gCon/Irish Greyhound Board (IGB), and the consequences for racing greyhounds once they are unwanted and considered “wastage”. This association was formed in 2010 and consists of 20 Member rescues, several of whom have been individually rescuing Irish greyhounds for twenty years and more. Among us, we have found homes for literally thousands of greyhounds over the years and will continue to do so. As an association, we work directly at the ‘coalface’ of the least attractive and indeed least impressive aspect of the IGB.
Although GRAI understands that the IGB’s ultimate aim is profit, the IGB should understand that its very dependence on a live animal demands the welfare of greyhounds should be publicly paramount, and any suffering in the name of profit should never be openly tolerated nor quietly condoned. When the IGB does not take the welfare of its greyhounds seriously, and swiftly, visibly enforce both its own Code of Practice and IGB rules as well as the Greyhound Welfare Act, they reveal a callous disregard for greyhound welfare and become increasingly ostracised by the paying public. It is overly simplistic for the IGB to solely attribute the downturn in stadia attendance to the flagging economy.
Our members are painfully aware of the extremely poor conditions that many discarded and unwanted greyhounds are found in. Since its foundation, GRAI and its members have been gathering and documenting incidents of cruelty, and yet the IGB has not acted on reported cases.
With this in mind, GRAI also holds the belief that there must be absolute accountability and transparency around greyhound welfare, and that more can and should be done to enforce the Greyhound Welfare Act. There is a modest estimate of 18,000+ greyhounds bred in Ireland annually, yet many do not end up on Irish tracks, and we have great concern for them. The registration system in place should be able to provide an exact number of greyhounds bred and the number of greyhounds accountably and humanely destroyed. There is no reason why the IGB, annually in receipt of government subsidy, should be an exception from other public bodies and not be held accountable. At the very least, a cap needs to be set on the number of matings allowed annually.
One additional pressing welfare matter that has been publicly discussed is the IGB intention to establish Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Services (BAGS) racing here in Ireland as a possible way of generating more income for the IGB itself and stadia owners. This will only further deteriorate the welfare situation, as it is well known in the UK that BAGS greyhounds are constantly in training, being trialed two or three times a week and over-raced regularly, having very little time to rest and recover; this is due to the nature of BAGS racing, as when the greyhounds are raced they generate money no matter if they win or lose. It is well known among greyhound rescue programmes in the UK that BAGS greyhounds are generally the ones found in the most deplorable condition. By establishing BAGS racing here, the IGB is adding to the overall greyhound welfare problem, not addressing it.
Please feel free to contact us with any further questions you might have. We are very willing to cooperate with the Department of Agriculture in promoting greyhound welfare in Ireland. Although the IGB does have a welfare officer, it is our impression that the IGB leadership has little genuine interest in greyhound welfare.
GRAI Welfare Officer
GRAI website: grai.ie