Minister for Rural Development Heather Humphreys has launched a five-week awareness drive intended to remind dog owners that they are responsible for the behaviour of their dogs.

The campaign will seek to educate dog owners on the damage their pets can do to people and livestock when out of control, with the overarching aim of changing owners’ behaviour.

The ‘It’s not your dog’s fault, it’s yours’ campaign will run across radio, print and online media channels until the end of May.

It follows on from an increase to €300 in the on-the-spot fine for sheep worrying, a funding bump of €2m for dog pounds and the establishment of a dog control stakeholder group.

Announcing the campaign, Minister Humphreys reminded the public that dog ownership brings with it a “lot of responsibilities” and stated that “far too many devastating attacks by dogs on people, especially young children” have been witnessed recently.


“I know the majority of dog owners are responsible and do the right thing. But we can all be guilty of thinking our dog wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Minister Humphreys said.

“No matter how harmless a dog might seem they can be capable of causing a lot of damage. Ultimately, as the campaign says: it’s not your dog’s fault, it’s yours.

“Dog owners must make sure their dog is under control at all times, not running wild endangering people, livestock or other dogs.

“I want this campaign to make people think twice about letting their dog loose and uncontrolled.”

Traumatic attacks

The campaign’s launch was welcomed by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, who reiterated to dog owners the emotional and financial impact of attacks on livestock.

“I really welcome this campaign. I know how traumatic dog attacks can be to people, especially children,” Minister McConalogue commented.

“I am also acutely aware of the devastation done to livestock by marauding dogs, causing terrible suffering to the animals and both emotional and financial distress to farming families.

“I believe it is essential we have conversations about responsible dog ownership and illustrating the dangers of marauding dogs, protecting people and animals from dog attacks.

“Dogs are a great addition to a home and a family, but owners must provide for their welfare and wellbeing, taking their responsibilities seriously.”

The minister encouraged animal welfare charities to “leverage” the campaign to share their own messages on dog ownership.

He also called on dog owners to ensure their pets get regular vet check-ups, nutritious food and clean water, as well as adequate exercise and mental stimulation.

Further measures needed

Chair of the dog control stakeholder group, retired deputy Garda Commissioner John Twomey, claimed that the campaign is an “important step” on clamping down on attacks but added that it represents “just the beginning of a number of measures we need to introduce”.

“The independent stakeholder group that I chair has an ambitious work plan and I would like to thank them for their willingness to engage so fully with this important issue,” Twomey stated.