THE AGRICULTURE MINISTER Simon Coveney has expressed “great concern” at the discovery of an open grave containing the remains of at least seven greyhounds in Co Limerick over the weekend.
Coveney said he had asked Bord na gCon to keep him directly informed of any developments on what he termed a “serious issue”.
The mass grave was discovered by a walker in a disused quarry in south-east Limerick over the weekend. The dogs had not been buried, and were in various stages of decomposition.
“I have been informed by Bord na gCon that every effort is being made to establish the ownership of these greyhounds and that the Gardai are investigating the matter,”
Fine Gael minister Coveney said new legislation which took effect in January allowed Bord na gCon welfare officers to ensure that appropriate welfare standards were in place across the greyhound industry, including in the housing of retired racing dogs.
Coveney said an Animal Health and Welfare Bill, which is to be formally published “shortly”, would further strengthen Irish laws on animal welfare.
Earlier this week Bord na gCon said had confirmed the identity of some of the dogs – which are identified as racing greyhounds by the use of mandatory tattoos on their ears – and that their registered owners would now be questioned by Gardaí.
The board encourages owners of retired racing greyhounds to keep them as pets, and has a project in place where retired racers are rehoused in other homes in Ireland as well as in the UK and in continental Europe.
Marion Fitzgibbon of the Greyhound Rescue Association of Ireland (GRAI) said she feared the discovery of the site was only the “tip of the iceberg”.
The GRAI argues that the number of greyhounds registered with Bord na gCon, and the number of registered litters, suggested that between 8,000 and 10,000 racing greyhounds “disappeared” every year.