Only three people have been jailed from over 100 animal welfare cases prosecuted before the courts since the Animal and Welfare Act 2013 came into operation, according to figures provided by Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed.
In a written Dáil reply to a question from Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Broin, Minister Creed confirmed that seven people have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment and that four of these were suspended.
Minister Creed saidfines in excess of €60,000 have been imposed while the Probation Act was applied in eight instances; and 16 people have been disqualified from keeping animals under the Act.
A number of cases remain before the courts.
The Act came into operation in March 2014, replacing a number of enactments dating back over a century.
Minister Creed said: "My policy and the policy of the Government has always been clear and consistent. Where instances of abuse, cruelty or neglect of animals are encountered, evidence is gathered and those responsible are prosecuted through the courts."
One of those to recently escape jail in an animal welfare case was Clare farmer Martin Gerald Foley (66) of Lislanihan, Kilkee.
Mr Foley, who dumped 12 carcases from a 300ft-high cliff-top and left other animals in his control to die in excruciating pain, walked free from Ennis Circuit Court in March.
He was handed an 18-month suspended jail term, and paid over €7,372 to cover the council costs of disposing of the carcases and the clean-up operation.
Mr Foley was also given a lifetime prohibition order on having any animals in his care.
Judge Gerald Keys said he could see no benefit in jailing Mr Foley as he is no longer a threat to animals and is no threat to society.