The state is considering new sanctions for irresponsible dog owners, the Dáil committee is told


Dog owners who allow their dogs to bark uncontrollably or whose dogs alarm other animals, and dog breeders who break the law, face harsh new penalties under consideration by the government, a Dail committee heard tonight.

Bairbre Nic Aongusa, deputy secretary at the Department for Rural and Community Development (DRCD), told the Joint Agriculture, Food and Marine Committee, which was holding a hearing on the dog breeding and dog control laws, that her department is currently studying proposed changes to both Laws and tightening of standards for dog breeding establishments (DBEs).

An amendment to the Dog Control Act provides that dog owners who allow their dogs to bark or otherwise make noise uncontrollably will receive a dog control notice stating their dog is out of control.

The department is also currently consulting with the Attorney General’s Office to introduce increased fines and penalties for “the ‘livestock concern’ offense that continues to be a problem in our rural areas,” she told the committee.

She noted that in 2020, 241 incidents of livestock problems caused by dogs were reported to local authorities and 253 such incidents were reported in 2019.

But her colleague Paul Geraghty, a senior officer in her department, told the committee the numbers could be much higher because “we know that many cases go unreported”.

Alongside the proposed penalties, the ministry intends to step up a public information campaign to “promote a culture of responsible dog ownership in outdoor recreation.”

“This will complement the work already undertaken by DRCD in this area. Dogs must be kept under effective control, especially around livestock. Dogs should never roam free and pose a threat to our farmers’ livelihoods,” she told the committee.

“Each year during the lambing season, the DRCD has led communication campaigns to inform dog owners of the risks of leaving dogs unattended.”

Meanwhile, the department is also looking to “strengthen the enforcement regime” for dog breeders, introducing additional penalties for violations and allowing for fixed payment requests.”

It is also considering additional legislative changes to allow local authorities – who are responsible for enforcing dog control laws – to “inspect de-registered premises and confiscate dogs where justified on animal welfare and other grounds”.

However, Sinn Fein Senator Lynn Boylan said local government enforcement of dog breeding legislation is patchy and only about half of local governments “show any form of information about the licensed DBE (Dog Breeding Establishment) in their area. Others don’t have the information and you have to request it, but even then the information they get is patchy.”

“It just seems like luck,” she told the committee.

“From speaking to members of the public, they are appalled that they are buying a dog that comes from industrial puppy farms. But there is no way – and they are instructed by the Minister to do their homework – but there is absolutely no way that they can actually do their homework because they don’t have that information.”

She added that the lack of information from DBEs on the records of births, deaths, sales and other movements of dogs from breeders is also a concern. She said she previously asked the committee “what happens to brood bitches when the DBEs are done with them, and what we’re hearing is that it’s very difficult to predict what’s going to happen to them.”

While some are resold as older dogs or given to animal welfare organizations, “there is also anecdotal evidence that some of the DBEs then actually start a separate rescue organization and advertise these retired bitches as rescue dogs and actually make money – then doubly so – by running the pubs.” sold and actually advertised the retired bitch as a rescue dog.

Other committee members said the patchwork of different local and state agencies dealing with animal control legislation was confusing, while Sinn Fein TD Matt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan) said the issue of enforcing dog control legislation was also an issue, noting that this was the case in one case Out of 82 cases against dog owners, there were only 20 convictions.

Meanwhile, the committee heard that local authorities spent 7.2 million euros on dog control in 2020, even though there are only 50 full-time and 25 part-time dog guards across the country. The state is considering new sanctions for irresponsible dog owners, the Dáil committee is told

Fry Electronics Team

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