In what has become an annual pre-Christmas tradition, Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue announced funding of more than 3.7 million euros to 98 animal welfare organizations across the country.

In order to perpetuate this tradition, December 15 was given the title of the first “Animal Welfare Awareness Day”, as an animal welfare awareness initiative.

This announcement is still surprisingly controversial. There are different aspects that come up every year.

This is very positive: per capita, it is 78c per person living in this country given to animal welfare. In Britain that would be equivalent to the government giving € 52million to animal welfare groups, when to my knowledge they are giving nothing at all. There are very few countries in the world where the government directly funds independent animal welfare groups, and we need to be aware of this fact.

The funding is used as a means of improving standards among the many independent and disparate groups who work hard for animal welfare. In order to receive funding, you must complete application forms, following clearly defined standards of care. This bureaucracy can be tedious for animal rescue groups that are already overworked, but at the same time, it’s a way to make sure people are doing better for the animals they are helping.

One of many dogs found in substandard and overcrowded living conditions on a Co Limerick property earlier this year. Image: ISPCA

There have been examples in the past of groups whose dedication has caused them to take on too much work, which has resulted in too much pressure, resulting in lower standards of care. It is not in the best interests of the animals that they are trying to help. The ex gratia funding is therefore a way of putting a little pressure on maintaining standards.

There are always complaints that too much funding goes to the larger charities, and not enough (or not) to the smaller, hardworking and local ones. For example, DSPCA receives € 615,000 and ISPCA receives € 670,000, while Cork Dog Action Welfare Group receives only € 38,500, West Cork Animal Welfare Group receives only € 21,500 and Madra only receives € 17,000. And everyone knows that these little groups do a colossal job. I understand the concerns about this, but there are two points that are sometimes left out.

One of the 53 dogs found by ISPCA on the premises of Co Offaly as well as six litters of puppies.  In addition to not being registered, the conditions on the property fell below required standards.
One of the 53 dogs found by ISPCA on the premises of Co Offaly as well as six litters of puppies. In addition to not being registered, the conditions on the property fell below required standards.

First, the DSPCA and ISPCA have an additional duty that other groups do not: their mission is to enforce animal welfare laws. The Gardaí generally do not do this: the work is delegated by our company to these two charities. It is therefore clear that they need additional funds to employ the authorized agents to do this work, and to pay the costs of court cases, etc.

If they did not get this funding, there would be no lawsuits and animal welfare would suffer.

In addition, the Irish Blue Cross receives a gigantic amount of € 330,000, but you have to remember that they do another kind of extra work, not done by other charities: they provide subsidized veterinary care to the animals of company of people who cannot afford to go. at the veterinarian, at its base in Inchicore as well as through their mobile clinics. So he needs more money to do it efficiently.

The second point is that every time funds are distributed it will always be impossible to satisfy everyone. Someone always gets more, somebody always gets less, and it’s so easy for people to feel wronged.

There is always a comparison between this money (less than 4 million euros) and the money given to greyhound racing (In October, 17.6 million euros were announced as a grant to Greyhound Racing Ireland du Horse & Greyhound Fund). I totally agree that this sounds outrageous, and there are just two points I would like to make about it that are often missed.

First, the funding for greyhounds does not come from taxpayers’ money: it comes from the Horse and Greyhound Fund, which comes directly from betting taxes, so it can be argued that it is the greyhound’s money that funds the greyhounds. . This doesn’t mean it’s “good”, but it should be noted.

Second, this greyhound money won’t last forever: I wrote about it before, but just to take it back. In 2018, a report entitled “Strategic Plan 2018-2022” was published by the Irish Greyhound Board. This report discusses in detail the challenges and issues facing a declining industry. Importantly, the report set out a five-year plan for the buyout of the greyhound industry, which depended on government funding. The report indicated an annual sum agreed by the government to be allocated to the greyhound industry, and that included the 20 million euros which should be allocated in 2022 (“only” 17 million euros were given at the end) .

But after that there is a big question mark. What will happen next? Should the government continue to support an industry in decline and facing animal welfare issues?

This is the big question people should be asking themselves today. To my knowledge, no decision has yet been made on future grants for greyhound racing. There is no doubt that behind the scenes there will be strong lobbying, spuriously trying to link ‘greyhound racing’ to ‘rural Irish culture’ when in fact it is all about a ruse to try to get political support for funds.

My point is clear: if greyhound racing is not self-sufficient, it should end and a five-year closure plan should be in place.

Why should our government continue to support it when polls show 80% of voters are against it? If greyhound racing is phased out, this should be done gradually, as many greyhounds will need to be relocated. It couldn’t happen suddenly.

So today, rather than complaining about why so and so got so much, and so and so got so little, let’s focus on this question: will 2022 be the year the government Irishman will finally decide that greyhound racing should no longer be a subsidized part of our culture?

Pete Wedderburn is the Irish Examiner Pete the Vet Lifestyle Columnist