Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan has raised the need for the Minister of Rural and Community Development to ensure that the enforcement of the Control of Dogs Act, including compliance with the dangerous breeds regulations, is properly resourced.
Ms Boylan said:
“While the Department of Rural and Community Development are quick to try and offload responsibility to local authorities when it comes to enforcement, the reality is that they are the Department with responsibility for the legislation.
“The government must step up resourcing for dog wardens. We are lucky to have decent animal welfare legislation but where we fall down is implementation.
“Dog wardens employed by local authorities are responsible for ensuring that laws are enforced including muzzle wearing by dogs on the dangerous breeds list.
“From figures released by the Minister of Rural and Community Development, it is clear the number of dog wardens are completely inadequate.
“For 192,348 licenced dogs there are around 60 full time equivalent dog wardens. That’s a ratio of 3,205 dogs for every warden and does not include the unlicensed dogs.
“Collectively, they brought 97 prosecutions resulting in 32 convictions according to the latest figures for 2021.
“We have seen a spate of attacks by dangerous breeds. Those dogs are supposed to be muzzled by their owners but without enforcement there are no repercussions for breaking the law.
“We see simplistic, unworkable, knee-jerk calls from Government when the reality is that we need proper enforcement of existing legislation and the full implementation of the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee Report on issues affecting dog welfare.
“This includes bringing canine welfare under the remit of a single Department and highlights the importance of proper socialisation of puppies.”