The appalling conditions suffered by 36 greyhounds during a 38-hour journey from Ireland to mainland Europe have been uncovered in a joint operation by the RSPCA and ISPCA.
The greyhounds had been bought at a sale in Dublin, Ireland and were trackedby RSPCA Special Operations Unit officers throughout their journey to Spain where they were to be sold on for greyhound racing in Barcelona.
The 36 dogs shared 20 cages with just a small bowl of water between every two dogs during the 38-hour journey by ferry and road. Temperatures during the journey reached more than 40 degrees centigrade.
Hidden from public view by a thick tarpaulin, only four of the dogs were briefly exercised during a stop in France, leaving the other 32 caged for the entire trip.
The size of the cages meant that the majority of dogs could not stand to their natural height, and those sharing a cage could not sit or lie down at the same time.
Current legislation (Welfare of Animals Transport Order 1997) states that dogs and cats transported for commercial purposes are required to be watered once every 12 hours and fed every 24 hours.
There is nothing in the legislation that stipulates a maximum duration time for the journey or when they should be rested and exercised.
Under ferry company guidelines, dogs and cats transported for commercial purposes are considered “freight” and cannot be checked during the duration of a journey. This means the dogs couldn’t be checked at all during the 18-hour ferry trip from Rosslare in Ireland to Roscoff in France.
A Barcelona veterinary surgeon with 16 years experience in dealing with greyhounds examined the dogs on their arrival and was disgusted at the confined conditions the dogs were kept in.
In his report, the vet states that many of the greyhounds were showing signs of anxiety or metabolic disturbances caused by such a long trip.
RSPCA Special Operations Unit inspector John Wilkins says: “Thelaws for transporting dogs for commercial purposes must be urgently looked at in order to address these very serious welfare concerns. Dogs are frequently overlooked in legislation and as a result their welfare is being compromised.
“We would also strongly urge ferry companies to immediately reassess their regulations and look to classing cats and dogs as livestock. By doing so, these animals will have access to better welfare conditions when travelling by sea.
“These poor animals have had to endure nearly a day and a half of travel in the most uncomfortable and dreadful conditions imaginable.”
Spanish Police have reported the driver of the vehicle for breaking a number of Spanish and EU regulations, including not having a journey plan, having a vehicle that was not registered for the transport of animals and for failing to disinfect the vehicle prior to transporting the animals.