Concessions offered to the Greyhound Industry and Hunting Association

The following is the text of a document issued by the Government to their TDs by way of briefing them on changes made to the Dog Breeding legislation.  

Friday 9th July 2010

The Dog Breeding Establishment Bill will set out standards required for the welfare of all dogs while protecting our dog industry .This bill will help to enhance our international reputation amongst the dog industry and also prevent any puppy farms from neglecting their dogs. 

 The Department of Agriculture will amend the 1958 Greyhound Industry Act, to legislate for welfare provisions for members of the Irish Greyhound Board.  Once amended, the welfare of IGB registered greyhounds would be addressed through this amended 1958 Act.

 Minister John Gormley will delay the signing of the commencement order of the welfare sections of the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2009 until 1 January, 2011 to allow for the introduction of these amendments into the 1958 Greyhound Industry Act. 

Greyhounds:

 Increased powers to the inspectors of Bord na gCon who will hold joint inspections with Local Authority Inspectors.  

  • Continue tattooing as  the method of traceability
  • Veterinary Inspector approval for a fitness cert to allow a bitch to breed more than 3 litters in 3 years if deemed safe.
  • Register of Greyhounds to be put on a statutory basis.
  • IGB Registered trainers will be exempt from the fee for registration purposes. 
  • Review of legislation to include all aspects of dog industry.

Hunting Dogs 

  • Three month consultation with associations prior to regulations being introduced.
  • The regulations will be sufficiently flexible to accommodate the needs of specific groupings, that is hunt dogs, for whom it is recognised that communal sleeping facilities are most appropriate.
  • Exemption of fees for Hunting Dog kennels.
  • Continue tattooing as the method of traceability.
  • There will also be a requirement that such tattoos be registered on a database for traceability purposes.
  • Review of legislation to include all aspects of dog industry.  

In addition: 

  • The requirement that all dogs be microchipped has been increased from 8 weeks to 12 weeks. This excludes greyhound and hunting hounds. This amendment will introduced at Committee stage.
  • The Bill defines a dog breeding establishment as a premises at which are kept not less than 6 bitches each of which is more than 4 months old and capable of being used for breeding purposes. The minister has signalled that he is willing to change the 4 months to 6 months in response to calls in the Seanad.
  • This Bill provides a lead in time of up to 3 months, which the Minister has today proposed to extend to 6 months in response to calls in the Seanad.
  • The Minister also confirmed that the operation of the new Act will be reviewed after a year to assess its impact on the industry.
  • Dog Breeding Establishment fee is €400 for 6 – 18 bitches 

The worries of Hunting Associations have been addressed: 

Thursday 8th July 2010 

The Government is confident that the concerns of the hunt clubs (as defined in the Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009) will be addressed as follows:

  • Addition of a subsection to Section 15 to provide for the identification of dogs in dog breeding establishments operated by hunt clubs by way of a tattoo as an alternative to micro chipping. Either tattooing or micro chipping is satisfactory.
  • Addition of subsection to Section 15 to specify that such tattoos and or micro chips must be registered on a data base maintained by the Hunting Association of Ireland or FACE.
  • During the consultation period on the regulations, the practical implementation of the traceability provisions will be discussed with the HAI and FACE with a view to minimising cost and inconvenience for older dogs in particular.
  • Should HAI /Face opt for a micro chip system it can train/instruct people in the application of this system.
  • The HAI/FACE may hold a central data base.
  • Hunt Clubs affiliated under the HAI and FACE Ireland will be exempt from all license fees in connection with the Dog Breeding Establishment Bill.
  • Legislation will commence no earlier than January 1st 2011 and there is a phasing in period of six months.
  • Section 3 of the bill is a standard provision of legislation. It is not possible for any Minister to introduce secondary legislation (i.e. regulations) that is contrary to primary legislation as it would be ultra vires. Consultation with the HAI will take place prior to any new regulations being introduced and the Minister is required to get the agreement of the House before any changes are made to the primary legislation.
  • Consultation with the HAI and FACE prior to introduction of regulations.
  • Review of legislation after one year to include hunting dog sector.
  • The independence of the inspection regime will be the onus of the local authority. Regulations will have to ensure the proper and transparent functioning of the dog warden service, and in particular guard against vexatious behaviour. Inspections will be held strictly on the basis of the legislation. In particular  section 14 :
  • (1) Dogs are adequately supplied with suitable food, drink and bedding material, (2) adequately exercised and (3) inspected at regular intervals and all reasonable measures are taken to prevent and control spread of disease.
  • It is agreed that during the period of consultation prior to regulations being introduced that the independence of the inspection regime will be discussed and guaranteed particularly where the dog warden service is contracted out, with a view to providing an ongoing consultative process between HAI/FACE and the local authorities to provide oversight of the objectivity of the inspection regime.
  • According to the Attorney General’s office there would be significant legal issues to ban Dog Wardens from being members of the ISCPA.
  • As outlined in the bill the dog warden can only report to the local authority, cannot initiate any action and must revert to the county Veterinary officer before any action is taken.
  • As outlined above the HAI and FACE specifically are to be consulted with as stakeholders prior to regulations being introduced and at the twelve month review.
  • Security worries are acknowledged and access to the register of hunt kennels would be limited in the amount of information provided to the general public .This specific issue will be discussed in detail with the HAI and FACE prior to regulation being introduced to protect those concerned as much as possible.
  • Although under the legislation all registered dog breeding establishments will be required to display a sign on their premises, the precise size and location of this sign will be subject to consultation during the process of developing the regulations.  Any regulations developed will not be excessively onerous. 
  • With the exception of the above points, hunt clubs would be subject to all of the remaining provisions of the Dog Establishment Bill 2009.
  • However the regulations made under the legislation will be sufficiently flexible to accommodate the needs of hunt dogs, for which it is recognised that communal facilities are considered most appropriate.
  • Finally, an attempt has been made in the House and elsewhere to suggest that this Bill somehow represents an attack on the rural way of life and is the thin end of the wedge in terms of the end of traditional field sports.  Let me be absolutely clear, this Bill is about dog welfare only .Other rural pursuits such as shooting and fishing are simply not affected by this Bill and there is no other proposal before this Government to impact on these rural sports.  

What has been the greyhound industry’s response?

The Irish Greyhound Board has welcomed the confirmation that greyhound breeding and welfare is to continue to be managed under the existing Greyhound Industry Act. 

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD is to introduce legislation in the autumn which will amend the Greyhound Industry and Dog Breeding Establishment Acts, and put welfare standards for greyhounds on a statutory basis. 

The Board are pleased that the very comprehensive guide to the care and welfare of greyhounds that exists in the Industry has been recognised, and that this will now be given statutory effect.

All Irish Greyhound Board registered Greyhound owners, breeders and trainers will be covered by the amended 1958 Act.

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