Owners whose dogs are found to be worrying livestock could receive an on-the-spot fine of €300 under new regulations in the Control of Dogs Act, Minister for Rural Development Heather Humphreys has announced.
The fine has been increased from €100 to €300.
The minister also announced the establishment of a €2m fund to upgrade local authority dog shelter facilities and vehicles nationwide and confirmed that a high-level stakeholder group will be asked to consider wider issues such as expanding the list of ‘restricted breeds’.
Minister Humphreys said she believes this suite of measures is important in terms of promoting responsible dog ownership.
“Dogs can be a wonderful addition to a family or farm. However, dog owners must take responsibility to ensure their dogs do not cause harm or nuisance to people or property.
“Recent events have again highlighted the dangers posed by dogs and my thoughts are very much with those recovering following these horrific experiences.
“So, today, I am pleased to announce that I have signed regulations to triple on-the-spot fines under the Control of Dogs Act for more serious offences.
“I want to send a strong message to dog owners – if your dog is not controlled, you will be fined. And if you own a restricted dog, you must comply with the regulations,” she said.
The minister also warned dog owners that multiple fines can apply, for example a restricted dog without muzzle, collar or dog licence may attract three separate fines.
The membership of a new stakeholder group is due to be finalised in the days ahead.
“I recognise there is a wide variety of opinions in relation to how we as a country address issues of dog control and the very real public concern over dog attacks.
“For that reason, I have set up a high-level stakeholder group comprising a range of sectoral interests and experts to advise on the most appropriate responses.
“While not preempting the work of the group, I do note decisions taken by the UK in terms of restricting certain dangerous breeds by the end the year.
“I think it is only appropriate that our own stakeholder group consider[s] the merits of adopting a similar approach here, particularly in light of recent worrying incidents whereby people and livestock have been attacked,” she said.
New €2m fund
A new €2m fund under a new dog control support initiative will see funding directed to local authorities to upgrade their dog pounds and shelter facilities and to move towards cleaner, electric vehicles for dog wardens.
This funding comes as a direct response to increased pressures on dog control services, particularly in light of increasing numbers of strays and surrenders entering pounds over the past year.