Bord na gCon has welcomed the provisions regarding greyhound racing in the proposed Programme for Government as agreed between Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party.
The focus on welfare reflects the objective in Bord na gCon’s Strategic Plan 2018-2022 to place animal welfare at the centre of the greyhound industry. Bord na gCon’s estimated spend on integrity and welfare in 2020 will be circa €3.2m.
Initiatives introduced by the Board include a greyhound injury support scheme; additional financial incentives for domestic rehoming’s; the establishing of its first Care Centre and a confidential phone line/email to enable reports of welfare breaches to be fully investigated. The Board has also entered into a partnership with Greyhound Pets of America for an international rehoming programme.
Frank Nyhan, Chairman, Bord na gCon stated ‘the Board has long sought the introduction of updated legislation to replace outdated 1958 provisions. We welcome the commitment in the programme for government to implement the Greyhound Racing Act 2019. In anticipation of its commencement, the Board has already progressed a tender process for a new traceability system for racing greyhounds. The contract was awarded to Event Log Ltd in March 2020 and the new system will be in place in quarter 4 of 2020. This will enable full traceability for each racing greyhound until the greyhound retires to its forever home. The Board commitment to care and welfare is underlined by its introduction of a Covid 19 Greyhound Care Payment Scheme during the period of suspension of racing activity. The scheme, costing €1.2m, provided for a payment in respect of each racing greyhound to assist in meeting its care and welfare needs. The extensive range of measures and initiatives put in place by the Board positions us well to ensure the highest of standards within the industry. The provisions of the 2019 Act will further enhance our capability to maintain a robust system for integrity and welfare throughout the sport’.
In September 2019, the Board established a dedicated Care Fund for further supporting the overall care programme. Income to the Fund is derived from 50% of all sponsorship, 10% from admissions and restaurant packages and 5% of nett Tote profits with an overall targeted income of €1m in the first year.
The Board has in recent years successfully defended a number of High Court challenges and subsequent appeals on elements of its regulatory system including its testing regime and Exclusion Order process.