New laws on dangerous dog breeds and ownership in Ireland come into effect in December.

Public must be informed on new dog laws

Cork County Councillors have urgently called for an information campaign to highlight new laws around offences concerning dangerous breeds of dog.

The call follows an announcement this week by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys of a series of changes to legislation surrounding dog ownership.

The new legislation, coming into effect on 21 December, will bring increased on the spot fines of up to €300 for a range of dog control offences including not having a dog under effective control or a dog not wearing a muzzle where required.

The new regulations also allow for the issuing of multiple fines in relation to a single incident.

The minister also announced the establishment of a €2 million fund to upgrade local authority dog shelter facilities and vehicles nationwide, of which Cork County Council will receive €98,020.

Finally, the minister also confirmed that a high-level stakeholder group will be asked to consider wider issues around dog ownership, including expanding the list of restricted breeds.

Elected members welcomed the changes during a meeting of Cork County Council on Monday, however a number of them voiced concern regarding the local authority’s ability to implement the changes.

Fianna Fáil Cllr Seamus McGrath called for an awareness campaign to be commenced as soon as possible in the county to prevent dog attacks like the one seen in Waterford city last month which resulted in two women being hospitalised at CUH.

“When there are very serious dog attacks, we’re all horrified,” said the Carrigaline councillor.

“Very often it involves children and, in some cases, lives are lost, and in other cases, life-threatening, life-lasting, and life-changing injuries are sustained.

“I think the majority of restricted dog breed owners are quite responsible, there’s no question about that, but unfortunately there are some who aren’t,” the Carrigaline man added.

Fine Gael’s John Paul O’Shea welcomed Minister Humphrey’s announcement but said that Cork’s dog wardens are already under “savage pressure”.

The Mallow and Kanturk representative said a system should be established where members of the public can easily report dog offences.

“We have it with the dumping service where you can report illegal dumping, I think there should be a service as well where you can report a serial offender going around with a dog that’s not muzzled,” said Cllr O’Shea.

Fermoy Cllr Kay Dawson (Fine Gael) said more money should be directed towards local authorities if they hope to successfully implement laws around dog ownership.

“You could put all the information in the world out there but if there aren't consequences for the person that isn’t obeying the rues, we’re in trouble,” she said.

The Veterinary Department of the council, who is charged with implementing dog control legislation within the county, said it is open to examining options regarding the development of a local awareness campaign via social media and other platforms.