Thursday 20 July 2017

Exported Irish greyhounds suffer horrific abuse at hands of new owners

Irish dogs injured abroad as Government's outdated 'puppy farm' laws remain unchanged

'Many are used as pets but Irish greyhounds have ended up in the possession of foreign buyers who use them for blood sports, such as coursing' Stock photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
'Many are used as pets but Irish greyhounds have ended up in the possession of foreign buyers who use them for blood sports, such as coursing' Stock photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

Wayne O'Connor and Mark O'Regan

Greyhound breeders are exporting Irish dogs to Pakistan, China and Argentina via the UK and other EU states to stop them being tracked by Government officials.

Many of the dogs are then subjected to horrific abuse due to a lack of animal welfare legislation in those countries.

It comes as the Sunday Independent has learned plans to overhaul outdated dog breeding rules have been quietly kicked to touch by the Government - despite Ireland's reputation as the "puppy farm capital of Europe".

No timeline has been agreed for a much-demanded change in the law.

Thousands of puppies, each worth hundreds of euro, are shipped to British ports every year as part of a grisly cloak-and-dagger export trade.

Many of the animals are hidden in the back of vans and cars before being moved on to mainland Europe.

The Department of Agriculture is able to track the movement of dogs within the EU but it cannot follow them once they are transported on to a third country.

Many are used as pets but Irish greyhounds have ended up in the possession of foreign buyers who use them for blood sports, such as coursing.

Animal welfare groups are calling on the Government to introduce legislation that will limit the countries to which dogs can be exported.

As greyhound racing is illegal in Argentina, there are no animal welfare standards to be adhered to once the dogs arrive there.

Pakistan, where videos have emerged online of greyhounds being abused at meetings, has very limited protection for animals.

A number of major international airlines, including Qantas and Cathay Pacific, have refused to transport greyhounds to China after it was discovered that dogs running at the notorious Canidrome track in Macau were being abused and killed if they failed to finish in the top three on a consistent basis.

Evidence of such abuse includes dogs being thrown into boiling water and skinned dog carcasses being sold in Macau.

Independent TD Tommy Broughan said up to 200 Irish dogs have been exported to Pakistan from an Irish greyhound club.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said his department is aware of exports to Pakistan.

"My Department does not have figures for the movement of dogs that are, for example, exported to the UK, the most significant destination for Irish dogs, and subsequently exported to a third country. Bord na gCon advises all owners of greyhounds to only export to destinations that provide the expected levels of greyhound care and management."

This position has been criticised by animal welfare groups. Dogs Trust executive director Suzie Carley has asked the Government to beef-up legislation and support a bill by Mr Broughan aimed at controlling dog exports.

"Our main concern is that welfare standards are appropriate to ensure the protection of greyhounds and that they are being adhered to. Changes are required to current legislation in order to safeguard the wellbeing of all greyhounds."

Ireland has been described as the "puppy farm capital of Europe", with up to 30,000 dogs a year bred in "back alley" facilities, but the Department said it cannot provide any timeframe for the introduction of proposed legislation on the provision of kennels and exercise areas.

Brian Gillen of the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said some overcrowded puppy farms can have up to 500 bitches on site. "The dogs are forcibly taken off the mum after four weeks, they're not socialised, and are nervous around human beings," he said.

Sunday Independent

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