Press Release: Minister Humphreys announces suite of new measures to enhance Dog Control
Published by the Department of Rural and Community Development on Thursday, 9th November, 2023
Published by Leave No Trace Ireland on Monday 13th November, 2023
- On-the-spot fines to triple to €300 for more serious offences
- €2 million Fund to support dozens of dog shelters nationwide
- New Stakeholder Group to be asked to consider restricting further dangerous breeds
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has today (Thursday, 9th November 2023) announced a suite of new measures designed to enhance Dog Control.
During a visit to the National Headquarters of the Dogs Trust Charity in Finglas, County Dublin, Minister Humphreys confirmed:
- That she has today signed regulations that will see on-the-spot fines for more serious offences under the Control of Dogs Act increase from €100 to €300.
- The Minister also announced the establishment of a €2 million Fund to upgrade local authority dog shelter facilities and vehicles nationwide.
- And she confirmed that a high-level stakeholder group will be asked to consider wider issues such as expanding the list of ‘restricted breeds’. This is in light of a series of worrying recent incidents involving dog attacks.
Speaking today, Minister Humphreys voiced her concerns over these recent incidents and said she believes this suite of measures is important in terms of promoting responsible dog ownership.
Minister Humphreys stated:
“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.”
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.
In addition to the overhaul of fines, the Minister announced her decision to establish a high level Stakeholder Group, with membership due to be finalised in the days ahead.
The Minister confirmed that she will be asking this Stakeholder Group to examine expanding the list of ‘restricted breeds’.
Explaining the remit of the group, the Minister said:
“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 pre-empting 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 the merits of adopting a similar approach here, particularly in light of recent worrying incidents whereby people and livestock have been attacked.”
New €2 million Fund
Finally, Minister Humphreys announced the establishment of a €2 million fund under a new Dog Control Support Initiative.
Under this initiative, funding will be provided 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.
This funding will make immediate and tangible improvements to the dog control service across the country. It also fulfils a commitment in the Report of the Working Group on Dog Control to support infrastructure improvements.
Speaking today, Minister Humphreys acknowledged the work of dog wardens and dog control personnel, in what can often be a challenging role.
Minister Humphreys stated:
“I am pleased to announce €2 million in funding towards dog control service improvements. This will see the upgrading of dog shelter facilities, dog pounds and vehicles used by dog wardens.
We all know the difficult role dog control personnel play in our communities and the increased pressures they are facing as they deal with large numbers of stray and unwanted dogs.”
Concluding, Minister Humphreys said:
“The Report of the Working Group on Dog Control published in March made far-reaching recommendations in relation to dog control legislation, policy and related issues. I am looking forward to continuing to collaborate with our colleagues in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as we work to implement the recommendations.”
A county-by-county breakdown of allocations of this fund is available here in the notes section on gov.ie
Contact: The Department of Rural and Community Development Press Office
01-773 6843 / 087-1734633
Notes to editors:
The Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) is responsible for policy and legislation regarding dog control and dog breeding establishments. Under the Control of Dogs Act 1986, Local Authorities have responsibility for all operational activities including enforcement matters. Local Authorities have the power to appoint dog wardens, provide dog shelters, seize dogs, impose on-the-spot fines and take court proceedings against owners. Each year the Department of Rural and Community Development publishes statistics on a range of dog-control related activities of local authorities.
Dog Control Legislation
No breed of dog is currently banned in Ireland. However, the relevant legislation in this area, the Control of Dogs Acts 1986 to 2014, sets out a range of requirements for all dog owners or any other person in charge of a dog.
By law, if you own a dog, you must have a dog licence. You must have a collar or harness on your dog with your contact details attached. As it is a legal requirement that dogs are accompanied and kept under ‘effectual control’, it is recommended to keep your dog on a lead in public spaces. Local bye-laws on dog access may apply in specific areas such as beaches or public parks.
Furthermore, the Control of Dogs Regulations 1998, S.I. 442/1998 set out additional requirements that owners of specific breeds of dogs, including strains or crosses of those breeds, must comply with. Such dogs must be muzzled and led, on a sufficiently strong leash or chain not exceeding 2 metres in length, by a competent person over 16 years of age, when in a public place. This is often referred to as the ‘Restricted Dogs List’
Under the Control of Dogs Act, Local Authorities are responsible for the control of dogs. Each Authority must appoint a Dog Warden or Wardens who, under Section 28 of the Act, are responsible for enforcement of the Act’s provisions.
The Department of Rural and Community Development is committed to reviewing the current legislation on Dog Control and intends to engage fully with stakeholders throughout this process to consider the various issues arising in the months ahead.
Restricted Dogs List
Under the ‘Restricted Dogs List’ as per The Control of Dogs Regulations, 1998; the additional controls apply to the following breeds and type of dog (or strains or crosses of these breeds or type of dogs):
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- Bull Mastiff
- Doberman Pinscher
- English Bull Terrier
- German Shepherd (Alsatian)
- Japanese Akita
- Japanese Tosa
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Dog of type known as a Ban Dog (or Bandog)
Fines effective from 1st December 2023
|Offence||Relevant Section||New Fine Amount|
|Keeping or transferring possession of a dog contrary to section 2 of the Act||Section 27(1)(a)||€150|
|Dog not in effectual control||Section 27(1)(b) contrary to Section 9(1)||€300|
|Greyhound not properly controlled||Section 27 (1) (b) contrary to Section 10||€250|
|Stray dog found and not dealt with in the correct manner||Section 27 (1) (b) contrary to subsection (1) or (2) of Section 13||€150|
|No dog licence||Section 27(1)(c)||€150|
|Restricted dog not properly controlled||Section 27 (1)(f) contrary to Article 5 of the Control of Dogs Regulations, 1998||€300|
|No / incorrect collar / ID||Section 27 (1)(f) contrary to Article 6 of the Control of Dogs Regulations, 1998||€200|
Working Group on Control of Dogs
Convened in early 2023, the Cross-Government Working Group on Control of Dogs published their report in March. It contained a number of wide-ranging recommendations to improve dog control in Ireland, including, inter alia, improvements to dog control infrastructure and equipment in local authority dog facilities. The report of the Working Group on the Control of Dogs is available on Gov.ie, linked: HERE
Dog Control Support Initiative
Today’s announcement of €2 million in capital funding is intended to provide once-off financial support towards local authority dog control facilities and vehicles to enable them to deliver services and ensure better outcomes for the dogs in their care, and ultimately for the communities they serve. Eligible costs include:
- Infrastructure – repairs, fit outs, minor works, upgrades, extensions
- Vehicles – purchase, upgrade, fit out, repair, EV chargers purchase and installation works. In line with public policy any vehicles purchased using funds from this initiative must be in line with commitments in Irelands Climate Action Plan.
- Equipment – equipment that is necessary in order to deliver the dog control service in that area, including but not limited to electronic devices, and operational equipment such as cages, examination tables, etc.