I am aware of reports of the export of greyhounds to China.
The vast majority of greyhounds that are moved from Ireland go to the UK. Information received from my Department's local offices indicates that no greyhounds were exported directly from Ireland to China in 2017 and 2018.
Under EU law, dogs moved to another EU country from Ireland must be accompanied by an EU pet passport, be microchipped, and have a valid rabies vaccination.
The premises exporting dogs must be registered with my 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 welfare of greyhounds is regulated by the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 and the Animal Health and Welfare Act of 2013. The latter applies to all animals, whether kept for commercial, domestic, sport, show or other purposes. It contains robust measures against the ill-treatment of animals.
The Greyhound Racing Bill 2018, once enacted, will add to existing legislation, making the greyhound the most regulated of all canine breeds in Ireland. The Bill ensures that the principles of good governance and regulation are clearly and unambiguously laid down in primary legislation. In broad terms the Bill seeks to address deficiencies in the existing legislation and the governance of Bord na gCon. It will strengthen regulatory controls in the industry, modernise sanctions and improve integrity with a view to building a reputation for exceptional regulation in the sector.
My Department has a close working relationship with animal welfare charities on all aspects of animal welfare. Officials of my Department meet regularly with 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 is opposed to exports to countries that do not meet Ireland’s welfare standards. I fully endorse this view.