A total of 43 fines just topping €10,000 were issued in 2017, compared to 20 fines in 2016, Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) figures show. The increase in fines last year occurred despite a slight drop in the inspection rate.
The Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 sets welfare standards and requires owners to notify the Irish Coursing Club where the sale, transfer or death of a greyhound occurs.
The legislation gives welfare officers with the IGB, the semi-state body responsible for the regulation of greyhound racing, the legal authority to inspect kennels, seize evidence, issue fines, and initiate prosecutions. It also provides for maximum court penalties up to and including a class ‘A’ fine of €5,000, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both.
IGB welfare officers completed 571 inspections in 2016 which led to the issuing of 20 fines totalling €5,000. However, despite carrying out 477 inspections last year, the welfare officers issued 43 €250 fines to owners who had failed to notify the authorities of where a sale or death of a greyhound had occurred. The value of fines was €10,750. Three disqualification orders were also issued for welfare or doping offences, disqualifying these individuals from owning, training or managing a racing greyhound.
A case taken by the IGB before Newcastle West District Court last month resulted in fines of €1,250 being issued to an owner who had failed to pay three fixed payment notices. Two welfare notices were also served last year which require an owner to improve the welfare standards of their animals to avoid possible prosecution.
In June 2015, Nenagh District Court imposed fines of €2,500 and costs of €1,500 in a case taken by the IGB against an owner who failed to comply with a welfare notice. That individual was subsequently banned from the industry by the IGB.
IGB welfare manager Barry Coleman said: “We believe responsible ownership is essential. Only a small number of owners receive sanctions. Of 477 inspections last year, there were only two where a welfare notice was required.”