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Former Deputy Commissioner John Twomey LEAH FARRELL
taking the lead

Ex-Garda deputy commissioner to head up new stakeholder group on dog control

Minister Heather Humphreys said she is ‘very conscious of the public concern about dog control’.


A FORMER GARDA Deputy Commissioner is to head up a new stakeholder group on dog control.

Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys today informed Government of the appointment of John Twomey to the group. 

The group will be tasked with bringing recommendations to the Minister in terms of strengthening the legislation around the control of dogs.

It will also examine the issue of restricting certain breeds of dogs, in line with actions being taken by regions in the UK, including Northern Ireland.

Restrictions on XL bully dogs have been introduced in England, Wales and Scotland in recent months, and similar plans were announced today for Northern Ireland.

It’s understood that Humphreys is “very open” to the idea of following the UK in taking specific action in relation to certain dangerous breeds, including the XL Bully.

There are currently 10 restricted breeds in Ireland, including a so-called “ban-dog”, which is a cross or mixture of any of the restricted breeds.

Certain rules must be followed by people who have a dog that is a restricted breed.

These include that the dog must be kept on a strong lead that is under 2 metres long, muzzled when in a public place and with someone over the age of 16.

They must also wear a collar with the name and address of their owner at all times.

The Stakeholder Group on Dog Control will be made up of representatives from a number of key Government Departments, as well as organisations such as the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), Dogs Trust, Comhairle na Tuaithe, the Irish Veterinary Nursing Association, and the ISPCA.

The Group will meet quarterly, with the first meeting due to take place later this month in Dublin.

Speaking after this morning’s Cabinet meeting, Minister Humphreys said the group represents a huge range of viewpoints and that all members “share the same root desire to see better outcomes for everyone in relation to dog control”.

Humphreys remarked that as “someone from a farming background, I’m very conscious of the public concern about dog control”.

She added: “We have seen horrendous attacks by dogs on people, including children, in recent months and the issue of sheep worrying in our countryside continues to be a huge problem for our farmers.”

Humphreys noted that she has already “taken a series of measures” in relation to these issues.

Earlier this year, Humphreys announced a trebling the on-the-spot fines for the most serious offences from €100 to €300 and an allocation of €2 million to upgrade dog warden facilities and transport.

She also announced funding for a public awareness campaign, which will be launched shortly.

Under the new measures, dog wardens will also be able to issue multiple fines at once if they encounter an owner who potentially breaches a number of regulations in the Control of Dogs Act 1986.

This could see a potential dog owner receive three separate fines in cases where a restricted dog breed is without a muzzle, collar or if the owner is not in possession of a dog licence.

Dublin City Council has said that it will increase dog seizures by introducing more animal wardens to the city, as almost 150 dogs were taken into the authority’s care in the second half of last year.

Latest figures from the Council show that only half of the dogs taken into the city’s pounds in the last six months of 2023 were rehomed. The remainder of dogs were put to sleep, kept in the authority’s kennels or returned to their owners.