Export of Irish greyhounds to China raises concerns on dog welfare

We are writing as a concerned group of leading animal welfare organisations including Dogs Trust, Europe’s largest dog welfare charity, and two of Ireland’s oldest and largest animal welfare charities, the Irish SPCA and the Irish Blue Cross.

Export of Irish greyhounds to China raises concerns on dog welfare

We are gravely concerned and disappointed about confirmed reports that three Irish greyhounds were recently exported from Ireland to Macau to race in China’s only legal greyhound track, the Yat Yuen Canidrome.

Our three organisations have extensive experience of greyhound welfare and through the auspices of the International Greyhound Forum we have worked with the industry to raise welfare standards in Ireland. We consider such exports to be ill-advised and a massive step backwards in achieving a well regulated and safe environment for greyhounds both in Ireland and elsewhere in the world.

The idea of sending greyhounds to Macau stands in stark contrast to the letter and spirit of the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011, which was finalised following extensive consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the greyhound industry and the animal welfare community.

Ultimately, Dogs Trust, the Irish SPCA, and the Irish Blue Cross want to see regulation of the greyhound industry with better welfare provision for all dogs, before they get to the track, when they are racing and when they are retired. We believe this will be impossible to monitor in Macau, which has a well documented and deplorable record in terms of the welfare of racing greyhounds at the Yat Yuen Canidrome .

We would also like to draw attention to a decision by Bord na gCon in May 2011 to exclude the export of Irish greyhounds to China from their racing industry development proposal. This decision was reached following discussions with the late Minister of State, Shane McEntee TD and we were further reassured by the minister’s statement that any proposal involving Bord na gCon and the racing industry in China would have to give consideration to animal welfare matters.

As a group of Ireland’s leading animal welfare organisations we were most disappointed to read Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s recent response to concerns about the export of greyhounds to Macau as a blunt “There is no ban on the export of greyhounds to China”. While we accept that no statutory ban on such exports exists, we strongly urge the Department to highlight, as Bord na gCon have done, that the export of greyhounds to jurisdictions where equivalent welfare standards to Ireland do not exist should not take place.

As a nation we have in recent years attracted adverse international coverage about the welfare of our horses — let us not go down the same route with the welfare of our greyhounds, a noble dog synonymous with Ireland.

Mark Beazley, executive director, Dogs Trust

Andrew Kelly, CEO, ISPCA

Christina Conneely, manager, Irish Blue Cross

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