Greyhounds to get 'retirement homes' in plans to stop cruelty
New "care centres" to look after old and injured greyhounds will be required to provide facilities for them to have contact with "cats and rabbits".
The Irish Greyhound Board (IGB), which regulates the greyhound racing industry, has issued a tender seeking providers of so-called "retirement homes" for racing greyhounds that will include secure kennels and exercise facilities and the task of finding new homes for the animals.
A list of specifications for potential operators of the care centres includes the requirement to provide facilities for the "socialisation" of greyhounds to include contact with other pets, including cats and rabbits.
The tender is a response by the commercial semi-state body to the recent controversy over the treatment of non-racing greyhounds, including animal cruelty and the euthanisation of healthy dogs which was highlighted in an 'RTÉ Investigates' programme broadcast in June.
The documentary found that 16,000 greyhounds are born every year in the Republic but almost 6,000 are killed because they fail to make qualification times or are past their peak performance.
The care centres must give greyhounds a "home-type environment" and have a visitor room for potential adopters where they can watch DVDs of greyhounds which have been re-homed.
The operators of the new centres must also provide 24-hour veterinary cover and are required to arrange for greyhounds "to be introduced to children of all ages and children to be encouraged to walk and control the greyhound".
The IGB also requires care providers to enable greyhounds to have regular contact with other breeds of dog and other domestic pets "such as cats and rabbits".
In addition, they should have a comprehensive plan in place for re-homing animals.
They also need to build contact with organisations that work with adults or children that are disadvantaged or have a disability.
Appearing before the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture earlier this month, IGB chairman Frank Nyhan outlined a series of measures it was introducing to improve welfare, including the provision of care centres "so that greyhounds can lead a healthy life after retirement".
IGB welfare manager Barry Coleman said yesterday the initiative was intended to help the transition of racing greyhounds from the track to retirement.