Greyhound Racing Ireland (GRI) continues to make significant progress in the areas of welfare and regulation under its Strategic Plan 2018-2022.

€2 million was spent by the GRI across regulation and welfare in 2018. GRI 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 Irish Retired Greyhound Trust (IRGT), operated and established by GRI, rehomes greyhounds after retirement and promotes them as domestic pets. Over 1,000 retired greyhounds were rehomed via IRGT assistance in 2018. The IRGT financially supports many private rehoming organisations across Ireland and further afield.

The racing greyhound continues to be the most regulated of all canine breeds in Ireland.

The following is an update on our care and welfare measures:

- Introduction of a greyhound injury support scheme to provide financial assistance to aid injured greyhounds to continue with a healthy life.

Applications will be assessed on the basis that the greyhound will immediately retire from competitive action (trials and races) following its treatment.This scheme was launched the week commencing 6th August 2019. Applications are being considered as they are received.

Establishment of a confidential phone line to enable reports of welfare breaches to be reported to the GRI for investigation by relevant agencies.

This recorded phone line, on 061 448100, is available 24/7, along with the new email address, Reports received by the public will be followed up by one of the IGB’s welfare team, who have the power to carry out unannounced inspections and act under the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011. There have been 68 recorded messages to end August 2019 – 30 of which relate to welfare matters. Eight cases that have been investigated by GRI Welfare Officers are now closed, with one ‘Fixed Payment Notice’ issued as a result of those investigations.

Financially incentivising the rehoming of greyhounds in Ireland through additional supports though the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust (IRGT), which was established and is operated by the GRI.

A number of private greyhound rehoming organisations in Ireland currently receive financial support from the IRGT, which assists with the veterinary costs involved in preparing a retired greyhound for rehoming. These agencies can obtain an additional €100 per retired greyhound rehomed in Ireland to encourage and further facilitate domestic rehomings. This scheme was extended from 28th June 2019.

An extension and increase of support under the GRI’s foster care scheme, to identify new foster homes within Ireland for retired greyhounds.

GRI is currently putting in place a wider pool of suitable foster homes to enable greyhounds to transition from their life on the track to domestic pets before moving on to their ‘forever homes’. This scheme was extended from 28th June 2019. Fifteen foster care arrangements are now in place.

An intensifying of our inspection regime of greyhound establishments.

A special training programme for the same was held for GRI control stewards in July 2019. 491 inspections of greyhound establishments were undertaken in 2018, including unannounced inspections. 307 similar inspections, including unannounced inspections, have taken place between January and August of 2019. An intensification of the regime is being progressed with effect from 2nd September 2019.

An ‘expression of interest’ procurement process for the provision of greyhound care centres so that greyhounds can lead a healthy life after retirement.

The intended model of the care centre will provide high standard accommodation for greyhounds and contain house-training facilities to allow greyhounds to adapt to a range of different home environments. This measure is currently undergoing a public tender process. An expression of interest was placed on e-Tenders on Friday 26th July 2019. Closing date for tenders is 27th September 2019.

The establishment of a separate ‘Greyhound Care Fund’.

The Greyhound Care Fund has now been established. This is dedicated to funding a variety of initiatives for the care and welfare of the greyhound, including rehoming initiatives, the previously mentioned greyhound injury support scheme, greyhound care centres, the new traceability system and other actions all designed to support the care and welfare of the racing greyhound. Major sponsors have been advised of proposals to assign 50% of existing sponsorship to the fund while retaining prize money at current levels. 10% of all admissions and restaurant packages will be assigned to the Care Fund from September 2019, with 5% of net Tote income to be assigned to the Care Fund from November 2019. Work is to be progressed on monitoring arrangements for the Fund via the IRGT.

Furthermore, the GRI is also advancing the following measures:

- The progression of the traceability provisions of the Greyhound Racing Act 2019 to devise a traceability model and a draft of the proposed statutory regulations.

Meetings have been held with the Irish Coursing Club (ICC) and also with the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB). Advice has been sought from Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) in relation to their experiences. The Cattle Movement Monitoring System (CMMS) has been assessed and a draft framework for a greyhound traceability system has been developed. A tender process is to commence in October 2019. When implemented, it will allow the whereabouts of a racing greyhound to be monitored by the GRI throughout its life stages – birth, registration, its racing career, all changes of ownership and location, and end of life.

Negotiations with rehoming organisations Greyhound Pets of America (GPA) and Finding Loving Irish Greyhounds Homes Together (FLIGHT) for rehomings initiative.

GRI anticipates this arrangement securing a very significant increase in international rehomings of retired Irish greyhounds. It is expected that on successful conclusion of these negotiations, which are at an advanced stage, some 300 retired Irish greyhounds will be rehomed in the US in the first year of the arrangement alone. An initial transportation to Boston took place during September 2019, with the Atlanta branch of the GPA in a position to take seven greyhounds prior to the end of this month. Quotations are currently being obtained in relation to same. Work is underway to build the initiative with further branches including Minnesota, Lexington, Wisconsin and Cincinnati.

The preparation of a statutory instrument to make it a legal requirement that euthanasia of a greyhound must be carried out by a veterinary practitioner.

This is already the standard expected under the GRI Code of Practice for the Care and Welfare of the Greyhound. A draft Statutory Instrument has been agreed by the Board under the Welfare of Greyhounds Act, 2011 and is currently under consideration by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The revision, in conjunction with the International Greyhound Welfare Forum, of the Code of Practice on the Care and Welfare of the Greyhound to address the retirement and transportation of greyhounds.

Work on the revision of the Code is now at an advanced stage. A draft has been  circulated to members of the International Greyhound Welfare Forum for consideration at the Forum’s meeting on 2nd October 2019.

The commissioning of a full analysis of and recommendations on the industry footprint of the future. 

This analysis is currently being undertaken by Indecon Economic Consultants. It is expected that the timeline of the publication of the report in October 2019 will be achieved.

As outlined in detail above, Greyhound racing Ireland has been working quickly in recent months to promote public confidence in the industry. The Greyhound Racing Act 2019, which has been sought by GRI for a number of years, gives us the tools to rebuild our industry within a modern framework with the welfare of the racing greyhound at its core.