Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Increased welfare powers authorised to Irish Greyhound Board

Wednesday is World Animal Day 2017.

Increased welfare powers authorised to Irish Greyhound Board to  coincide with World Animal Day 2017

‘IGB is pro-welfare and pro-racing’

Two Welfare Officers of the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) have received approval from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to be authorised officers under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013. The IGB believes this will greatly enhance its ability to ensure the highest welfare standards across the industry and highlights its welfare commitment ahead of World Animal Day 2017, which is celebrated on Wednesday 4 October 2017.

Welfare officers Michael Falvey and Enda McCabe will be appointed ‘Authorised Officers’ under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013. This authorisation provides increased legal powers.  Under the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011, Welfare Officers were already authorised to inspect kennels, seize evidence, issue welfare notices and fines, and seek prosecutions in the District Court. The extra authority afforded under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 will allow for a greyhound to be seized (where health or welfare is compromised) and for increased penalties before the Circuit Court.

Speaking at the announcement, IGB Welfare Manager Barry Coleman commented “The IGB does not tolerate poor welfare standards or mistreatment of greyhounds in any shape or form. Any member of the public can contact the IGB as all reports are fully investigated. The IGB cooperates with the ISPCA and An Garda Síochana where appropriate in these investigations. Today’s announcement will act as a strong deterrent to a very small minority who fail to care for greyhounds adequately. I would like to remind Greyhound owners of their obligations to notify the Irish Coursing Club in writing of the sale/purchase/transfer/death of a greyhound within 14 days. Sanctions will be imposed on those found to be in breach of legislation or welfare standards.”

Under the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011, IGB Welfare Officers completed 571 inspections of kennels in 2016; this resulted in 34 full investigations and 20 sanctions being issued. Furthermore in 2016, two Welfare Notices were issued; follow-up inspections of the premises in question determined that the Welfare Notices were complied with.

Ger Dollard CEO of the IGB added “The IGB will continue to work closely with the Department of Agriculture to address welfare issues. The granting of increased powers to IGB is a further demonstration of the importance that the Government attaches to greyhound welfare. The IGB is pro-welfare and pro-racing; there is no place within our industry for the minority who mistreat greyhounds through poor welfare or use of prohibited substances.  I wish to commend all of our Welfare Officers who work very hard to ensure excellent welfare standards exist across our industry.”

The two Welfare Officers will now have the same legal powers as ISPCA inspectors and will now have authority to: use reasonable force to enter a property (other than a private dwelling), use reasonable force to enter a vehicle to rescue an animal, issue Welfare Notices (instructing owners to improve conditions or welfare), seize a greyhound or other property or evidence relating to an offence, request and by law, an animal owner must give such assistance or information to an authorised officer as may reasonably be required.

Penalties under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 include fines up to up to €5,000 or €250,000 on indictment (i.e. in higher court), imprisonment of six months or up to five years or a ban from buying, owning or caring for an animal for any period, including life.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Andrew Doyle TD added “My Department and the Irish Greyhound Board have signed a formal service agreement under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, which provides for named IGB officers to be appointed authorised officers under the Animal Health & Welfare Act. This gives the IGB greater powers and responsibility in particular to address any welfare issues arising amongst greyhounds. While excellent work continues to be done by the IGB in the welfare sphere, this will allow them to act more quickly and effectively in ensuring the welfare of greyhounds.”

Separately, the IGB have proposed a new traceability measure in new legislation currently before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The robust traceability measure would require that all racing greyhounds to be registered in a new database and for owners to report on significant life events which the IGB believe would be a significant step forward in ensuring greater welfare and accountability. This traceability measure has been proposed by the IGB into the Greyhound Industry Bill 2017 which is under pre-legislative scrutiny.

MISSION OF WORLD ANIMAL DAY 2017 ‘To raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe. Building the celebration of World Animal Day unites the animal welfare movement, mobilising it into a global force to make the world a better place for all animals.  It's celebrated in different ways in every country, irrespective of nationality, religion, faith or political ideology.  Through increased awareness and education we can create a world where animals are always recognised as sentient beings and full regard is always paid to their welfare.’

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