OPINION: A report on plans by a Killarney national school to hold a Night at the Dogs fundraiser, which has angered some animal rights activists who plan to stage a protest at the event, spared a huge debate yesterday. Here, in reply to some criticism that has been levelled at the greyhound racing industry, Josh Prenderville, Communications Officer with the Irish Greyhound Board, outlines his response to concerns raised
HUNDREDS of organisations, including schools, charities and other bodies, hold successful benefit nights at greyhound stadia across the country every year. The IGB is delighted to be able to facilitate fundraisers for worthy causes, including St Oliver’s National School.
Gambling for anyone under 18 is against the law and is most certainly not permitted in any greyhound stadium, including Tralee. The IGB is a family-friendly organisation and that is why entertainment, such as a bouncy castle and face painting, as well as free admission for under 14s, has been organised for the night in question.
Some people believe that animals should not be involved in sport in any way and while the IGB respects that opinion, the Irish public can be assured that greyhound welfare remains paramount in every area of our sport.
The IGB’s Strategic Plan 2018-22, launched earlier this year, targeted excellence in industry standards in the areas of welfare and regulation. Welfare of greyhounds continues to a key priority for the IGB. €2 million was spent by the IGB across regulation and welfare in 2017.
With the allocation of an additional €800,000 for 2019, we anticipate even further resources to be spent on further enhancing greyhound welfare next year. All reports of poor welfare are investigated and the IGB does not tolerate mistreatment of greyhounds in any shape or form.
IGB Control Stewards carry out a track inspection prior to all race meetings and trial sessions. The track vet attends all race meetings and sales trials to ensure that appropriate care is provided to injured greyhounds and to advise the stewards on welfare.
The IGB welcomes all organisations promoting greyhounds as pets. Over 5,300 greyhounds have been rehomed by the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust – set up and supported by the Irish Greyhound Board – between 2008 and October 2018.
Just last week, a nationwide campaign entitled ‘Our People, Their Stories’ was launched outlining some of the wonderful work being done by the IRGT and its volunteers, including in Kerry. €2.76 million has been raised to support re-homing of greyhounds throughout the past decade.
The main source of funding of the Trust comes from racing owners through a 2% deduction of all winning prize money which is then matched by the IGB. Many tracks, including Tralee, frequently host retired greyhounds, giving children and families the chance to get close to them and to appreciate what wonderful pets these dogs make.
418 inspections of greyhound establishments – which includes trainers’ kennels and schooling tracks – have been carried out by IGB Welfare Officers so far in this year. In 2017, 477 inspections of kennels from IGB Welfare Officers were carried out. Two welfare notices and 43 fines were issued as a result. Failure to comply with a welfare notice issued by the IGB can result in a fine totalling up to €5,000, a prison term not exceeding six months or both.
The Greyhound Industry Bill 2018 continues to pass through the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Bill includes greyhound welfare as one of the statutory functions of the IGB. This legislative framework will allow the IGB to maintain the very positive welfare initiatives that are already in place, as mentioned, as well as implement further progressive measures to allay any public concerns that may exist on welfare within the industry
This Bill, when enacted, will add to existing legislation, making the greyhound the most regulated of all canine breeds.
- Josh Prenderville is Communications Officer with the Irish Greyhound Boar
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