Fines for owners of out-of-control dogs to double to at least €5,000

Owners of dogs that attack people or other animals are facing increased penalties. Stock image

Gabija Gataveckaite

Owners of dogs that attack other animals or people will be fined at least €5,000 – double the current penalty – under a major government clampdown .

Owners will be prosecuted under the Control of Dogs Act, which covers dogs not being on a lead and not being kept under control.

An extra 40 dog wardens will be provided across the country under recommendations from a report being brought to the Cabinet by Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue.

The measures come after a series of dog attacks on people and animals.

The incidents include 80 sheep being slaughtered during a “horrific” attack in Tipperary in recent months.

Mr McConalogue and Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys established an interdepartmental working group which was tasked with reviewing dog wardens, microchipping, licences, breeding establishments and the sale of dogs, and increasing fines for out-of-control dogs,

An interim report from the group will be brought to the Government today.

Extra dog wardens, doubling fines to €5,000 as well as setting up a centralised database for microchipped dogs to improve dog traceability and welfare are just some of the 15 recommendations.

There are currently around 50 dog wardens across the country.

A separate centralised database for dog breeding establishments will see the regulations around breeding, and the sale and supply of dogs strengthened.

It is understood the group will finalise its work by the summer.

Mr McConalogue will consider the report’s recommendations and propose new plans.

While the interim report suggests fines should be increased to €5,000, these may be even higher in the final proposals.

Nine-year-old Alejandro Miszan spent six weeks in hospital and underwent major reconstructive surgery after suffering severe injuries when he was attacked by a pitbull late last year.

Then taoiseach Micheál Martin described the incident, which took place in Wexford, as “shocking” and “disturbing”.

In 2021, a terrier mauled four-month-old baby Mia O’Connell to death in Waterford.

More than 130 incidents where a person was injured by a dog were recorded last year, according to data from An Garda Síochána.

In 2021, 179 dog attacks were reported. Unrestricted breeds accounted for 47 of the attacks, while 34 attacks involved restricted breeds.

A total of 98 attacks involved unspecified breeds.

There have been 54 incidents involving pit bulls since 2017, the Irish Independent recently reported, with other dogs, rabbits and cats killed, while adults and children also suffered injuries in some of the attacks. In 2021, 192,348 individual dog licences were issued and a further 75,832 were issued online.