Figures revealing the number of racing greyhounds which have died will not become available before the final quarter of this year, the sport's governing body has said.
The Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) earlier this year commissioned the design of a new traceability system for Irish animals in the wake of a highly-critical RTÉ documentary on breeding practices within the sport. Broadcast last summer, it alleged that mass culling of slow animals is prevalent in Ireland.
In response to a parliamentary question to the Department of Agriculture querying the number of greyhounds culled in 2019 and to date in 2020, Gerard Dollard, the IGB’s chief executive, said the Irish Coursing Club (ICC) is the entity with chief responsibility for the notification of greyhound deaths.
The ICC is the body which keeps record of official matings between greyhounds, while the deaths of any animals are required by law to be notified to the same authority within 14 days of said death occurring. The IGB provides racing and litter records for animals which have been registered as racing dogs only.
Mr Dollard said the traceability system commissioned “should be in operation” within the final three months of 2020.
“The system, when operational and supported by statutory regulation, will enable traceability of all significant life events in the life of a racing greyhound,” Mr Dollard said.
Those life events include litter registration as whelps, juvenile mortality, transfer of ownership or retention by breeder, progress of racing career and retirement, he said.
“Provision within the traceability system will additionally be made for the capture of other significant key life events such as export and death,” Mr Dollard added.
A contract valued at €350,000 to design and implement a traceability solution was awarded by the IGB in late March 2020 to Event Log Limited, a firm specialising in the tracing of racehorses based in the British town of Cheltenham.
That contract was one of two issued in the months following the RTÉ programme, the other being for the provision of greyhound care centres as part of the IGB’s “programme to significantly expand the care and welfare arrangements for racing greyhounds”.
Meanwhile, the IGB said a fire safety risk assessment at Youghal greyhound track has recently been commissioned, with any issues arising from same to be addressed in conjunction with Cork County Council.
Youghal was among four tracks earmarked for closure by consultants Indecon in December 2019 as part of a review of the IGB’s 18 stadia. However, the Cork track has since received a reprieve along with the stadium in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.
Youghal had not previously been required to engage with the local fire authority as it has no restaurant facility, the IGB said.