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Could restricted dog breeds be unmuzzled?

The Government has faced calls to change the legislation.

Image: Māris G. via Flickr/Creative Commons

RESTRICTIONS ON CERTAIN dog breeds in Ireland look likely to remain in place, despite a study suggesting these laws are ineffective.

Minister Alan Kelly fielded questions from TDs following a research paper published in the Veterinary Journal last month which showed a rise of 50% in hospitalisations due to dog bites between 1998 and 2013.

The Control of Dogs Regulations was introduced in 1998 and required a number of dog breeds to muzzled while in public, and walked on a leash of at most two metres by someone over 16.

Almost a dozen breeds, including German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Akitas and Pit Bull Terriers, are subject to these restrictions.

The report author, Páraic Ó Súilleabháin from NUIG, argued that this does not take into account that many other breeds are capable of inflicting severe injuries, the Sunday Times reports.

The paper also highlighted that Ó Súilleabháin runs Unmuzzled Ireland, a group campaigning for the removal of restrictions on the so-called ‘dangerous breeds’.

Responding to written questions from three TDs, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Alan Kelly said he believes the existing legislation is effective.

He highlighted that under current legislation all dogs owners are liable for any damage caused in an attack by their dog.

“It is not necessary for the person seeking damages to show a previous mischievous propensity in the dog, or the owner’s knowledge of such previous propensity, or to show that such injury or damage was attributable to neglect on the part of the owner,” the Minister added.

Kelly said the strict liability was key to the legislation.

Read: One TD wants the government to legislate on barking dogs >

More: This pup disappeared in Galway… but turned up on the other side of Ireland >

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Nicky Ryan

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