The Chairman of the Irish Greyhound Board has said they received 68 complaints to a confidential phone line that was set up in July.

Gerard Dollard said 30 of those were welfare related, and some of these were duplicate complaints about 21 welfare cases.

Members of the board were speaking at the Public Accounts Committee today, following a Prime Time investigation into practices in the industry earlier this year.

Last year, Mr Dollard said they did 491 welfare inspections, including 420 kennel inspections, most of which would have been unannounced.

Mr Dollard also said in 2018 that there were four prosecutions, but that would not take into account proceedings taken by the Department or the gardaí.

He added that the notification process for greyhounds being exported, dying or retiring is poor.

Asked by Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell how many dogs are put down on an annual basis, Mr Dollard said they do not have a traceability system.

He said all of the information that they are operating on is comprised of estimates.

He added that in terms of "unaccounted for dogs", all the assessments done are based on what he called an "unsound database".

He said they expect to go out to tender for a traceability system for racing greyhounds by the end of October.

Mr Dollard also told the committee that the Irish Greyhound Board's funding from the State in 2019 was €16.8m.

Fianna Fáil TD Shane Cassells said that the funding equates to €46,000 a day, which he described as a "massive State subvention".

He said that without the funding, the greyhound racing industry would be "goosed".

Deputy Cassells added that in terms of attendances, the figures broke down to an average of 319 people per race meeting in 2018.

He said that there would be more people at a cricket match in Malahide, and that he had 321 people waiting for home help in Co Meath.

Mr Dollard said three sponsors have withdrawn since the RTÉ programme, but he added that the level of funding lost was relatively small.

He said they have new sponsors, including in Co Cork, where a crowd-funding arrangement has raised €85,000 to sponsor Cork's main competition.

He added that attracting sponsors is a challenge, and he thinks potential sponsors will need to be convinced that the care and welfare issues are being addressed.

He told the committee that since August, it has been agreed that 50% of all sponsorship goes directly into a care and welfare fund.

On the sustainable future of the industry, Mr Dollard said that he thinks there has to be a rationalised industry.

He said the "footprint" of the industry would have to change, and their commercial model will have to change as well.

When asked by Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane if it was the case that the industry itself is producing ten times more greyhounds than needed, Mr Dollard said no, and that it comes back to the lack of credible data.

He said there have been various figures given for unaccounted-for-greyhounds, but until they have a traceability system, they do not know whether the animals are retired on someone's farm, or deceased.

Asked if there was a deeper issue for the industry, Mr Dollard said the trend has been downwards and their demographic has been ageing.

He said they need to look at new markets, find new areas and get people involved in the industry itself.