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Government carried out a review of legislation after a young boy was violently assaulted by a pit bull terrier last year. Alamy Stock Photo
dog controls

Dog owners who cannot control their pet should be treated as 'social pariahs', says McConalogue

The Minister for Agriculture was speaking after Cabinet approved a memo proposing that fines for such a breach be doubled to €5,000.

LAST UPDATE | Mar 28th 2023, 6:11 PM

AGRICULTURE MINISTER CHARLIE McConalogue has said that dog owners who breach laws concerning control of their pet should be treated like “social pariahs”.

He was speaking after Cabinet approved a memo proposing that fines for such a breach be doubled to €5,000.

Currently, under the Control of Dogs Act, an owner can be fined €2,500.

In addition, the review carried out by an interdepartmental working group finds that 40 new dog wardens should be hired.

McConalogue brought a memo to Cabinet today outlining the progress on the report on the control of dogs.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One this afternoon, McConalogue said addressing the issue of dangerous dogs required a “two-pronged approach” of strengthening laws and ensuring those laws are enforced.

One such law is a requirement that certain breeds, such as alsatians and rottweilers, have to be muzzled and kept on a leash in public. McConalogue said.

He said that “too often at the moment” those laws are not being enforced.

“We need to make sure that where people don’t take responsible approaches to managing their dogs, that that type of activity and people that do that, are seen as social pariahs.”

One of the report’s 15 recommendations is a review of the list of breeds which must be muzzled in public.

Terrier attack

Last year, McConalogue was tasked by the Tánaiste (then Taoiseach) Micheál Martin to carry out a review of legislation across government after a young boy was violently assaulted by a pit bull terrier in Co Wexford.

Also around that time, multiple dog attacks on sheep were being reported.

In November, Alejandro Mizsan was playing near his home in Enniscorthy when he was attacked by a pit bull cross and left with life-changing injuries.

At the time, Martin said we need to “go back to the drawing board” on how to deal with regulation of dogs, stating that what had happened was “one time too many”. 

McConalogue, along with Minister for Rural Affairs Heather Humphreys, established an interdepartmental working group which continues to examine issues such as fines for dog owners found in breach of the Control of Dogs Act, enforcement at local level, microchipping, licences, breeding establishments and the sale of dogs.

The group’s interim report also recommended the recruitment of 40 additional dog wardens nationwide.

McConalogue said today that “we have seen, over the last number of years, really good progress made in relation to the microchipping of dogs, also to the control of breeding establishments.”

The group recommended that regulation around breeding, sale and supply of dogs should be strengthened further by creating a centralised national database for dog breeding establishments.

The group will complete its report by summer.

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