years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
On 27 February 2011, the “Sunday Times” reported that Bord na gCon – the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) – planned to export dogs to China as part of an international expansion that could result in the IGB operating racing stadiums in China.
Animals Asia is extremely disturbed to hear of these plans. We believe it is wrong to use any animal for public entertainment or sport if the health or welfare of the animal concerned is compromised. The practice of breeding and racing greyhounds is inherently cruel with thousands of dogs killed each year, either because of injuries sustained while racing or because they had become surplus to the industry’s needs at the end of their racing careers.
The move is opposed by Irish and UK animal welfare groups, which say other countries refuse to sell greyhounds to China and that dogs too slow to win races are routinely slaughtered.
A letter from Mark Beazley, on behalf of Dogs Trust, DPCA, ISPCA and The Irish Blue Cross to the Irish Times, commented “The idea of sending greyhounds to China stands in stark contrast to the letter and spirit of the recently drafted Welfare of Greyhounds Bill which was finalised by the Department of Agriculture following extensive consultation with the greyhound industry and the welfare community.”
The Bill provides for the creation of a new register of greyhound breeding establishments. It also puts restrictions on the number of times that a female greyhound can be bred and sets a minimum breeding age. The Bill also sets up extensive powers of inspection for welfare officers, and gives them powers of inspection and issuing of Welfare Notices.
In contrast, a spokesman for the IGB said, “As with any country we do not have any influence on the welfare standards adopted in other countries, and these matters are more appropriately dealt with by the country’s own legislative system.” The Department of Agriculture said that the export of greyhounds was a matter for individuals and the IGB.
Ireland exports greyhounds to America, mainland Europe, Australia and Pakistan, but animal-welfare societies want trading with China to be prohibited. Orla Aungier, of the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA), said China had a reputation for the ill-treatment of wild and domestic animals.
“A number of countries which export greyhounds to China are already under pressure to stop because dogs that do not race well are routinely killed,” she said. “If Irish greyhounds are sent to China it would be almost impossible to monitor their welfare. We are urging Bord na gCon [IGB] to reconsider their plans and to think about how devastating this move will be for the welfare of Irish greyhounds.”
The reputation of the Irish greyhound racing industry was tarnished in the 1990s when images of starving and ill-treated dogs exported to Spain and Italy appeared in the media. The Irish authorities stopped supporting the Spanish trade.
At the same time, across Ireland and the UK, hundreds of greyhounds are seriously injured in races every year and subsequently "put down". Sadly, however, it isn't just injured dogs that lose their lives, as an estimated 25,000 greyhounds are put to death annually in the UK and Ireland, after they fail to make the grade as racers or when their careers on the tracks come to an end.
An RSPCA report on greyhound racing in the UK has stated that at least 20 greyhounds a day – either puppies which do not make the track, or retired dogs aged three or four – simply disappear, presumed killed.
Legislation in the UK does not adequately protect greyhounds from abuse and suffering, In a 2007 UK parliamentary inquiry into welfare issues surrounding greyhound racing in England, it was concluded that the racing industry produced a surplus of 13,478 dogs in England and Wales per year, with 4,728 dogs unaccounted for and presumed destroyed. This figure is recognised as a significant underestimation of the true scale of the problem. A further 2,478 British-bred greyhound pups never make it to the track and are completely unaccounted for.
Currently there is no legislation protecting domestic animals from cruelty in China and therefore the welfare needs of greyhounds are unlikely to be met within this industry.
Throughout China, many millions of dogs suffer immense cruelty and inhumane death in the trade for their meat and fur. Others face brutal treatment because of inhumane population management by government authorities with gangs of killers using wooden batons to chase and bludgeon dogs to death.
The greyhound racing industry has been in decline for many years especially in the USA where the industry has had massive financial losses. As of January 2011, there are only 23 dog tracks remaining in seven states. For further information, please see here
Animals Asia in partnership with the Born Free Foundation have written to the Irish Greyhound Board to urge them to reconsider plans to export greyhounds to China and to expand the industry within the country.
We support the development of animal-protection legislation for all animals in China. For further details, click here.
Please see a copy of our letter to the IGB below.
Click on the letter to read.
If you would like to voice your concerns about this plan, please email:
Barry Coleman - Welfare and Racing Operations Manager, Irish Greyhound Board: [email protected]
ISPCA (The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals): [email protected]
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