The Greyhound Industry Bill addresses governance issues in Bord na gCon, strengthens regulatory controls in the industry, modernises sanctions, improves integrity, includes the welfare of greyhounds as one of the statutory functions of Bord na gCon and provides it with powers to make regulations in relation to integrity, anti-doping, administration and traceability.
The General Scheme of the Bill is currently with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel for drafting into a Bill. A number of the suggestions in the Dogs Trust submission have been included in the current draft General Scheme.
In relation to exports the vast majority of dogs that are moved from Ireland go to the UK. The rules on movement of dogs within the EU are set by the EU and not at national level. In this regard dogs moved to another EU country from Ireland must be accompanied by an EU pet passport, be micro-chipped, and have a valid rabies vaccination.
The premises exporting dogs must be registered with the Department in advance of the export. Before travel, dogs must undergo a clinical examination by an authorised veterinarian, who must verify that the animals show no obvious signs of disease and are fit to be transported. Dogs must also have a health certificate issued by a Department veterinarian. These procedures, including vaccination, ensure that only healthy dogs, over the age of 15 weeks, are allowed to be exported.
Exporters must also comply with EU law on the protection of animals during transport, while the transport of animals by air is also governed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations. In this context, I am aware that a number of airlines do not transport commercial consignments of greyhounds.
The Department has a close working relationship with animal welfare charities on all aspects of animal welfare. Officials of my Department have met with the welfare members of the International Greyhound Forum, which includes the Dogs Trust, the ISPCA and Bord na gCon, to consider issues surrounding the export of greyhounds.
Bord na gCon has stated that it does not support the export of greyhounds to destinations which do not conform with the standards in the Animal Health and Welfare Act, the Welfare of Greyhounds Act or its own Code of Practice and standards. I fully endorse this view.