‘Government has taken very scattered approach to dog control’ – INHFA

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) has called on the government to ensure full traceability of all dogs by bringing responsibility for dog control and microchipping under one government department.

The president of the INHFA, Colm O’Donnell, has called for a national microchipping campaign which he maintains “will assist dog owners in the event of their dog being stolen and farmers where dogs have been found worrying sheep”.

O’Donnell said that this campaign “should aim to deliver on the full microchipping of all dogs over the next two years, and to make this happen we need all responsibility relating to dogs to be put under the Department of Agriculture”.

He explained:

Currently, there is a very scattered approach taken by government to the registration and control of dogs.

He added that this approach has left the licensing of dogs under the control of the Department of Social Protection, Community and Rural Affairs, while microchipping is under the control of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

“Meanwhile, the county councils which employ the dog wardens are under the control of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.”

Although the Department of Agriculture is responsible for the microchipping of dogs since 2015, it has “no data on the number of dogs chipped as this is held by four private companies”, the INHFA president said.

According to O’Donnell, of the estimated 450,000 dogs in the country, less than half are licensed, with just over 200,000 licences issued annually.

The fact that possibly 250,000 dogs are not registered to anyone is a real concern that must be addressed.

“In bringing all responsibility and knowledge under one department, a plan of action can be implemented that will ensure the full traceability of all dogs.

“This will help trace dogs in the event of theft and also discourage it, while for sheep farmers, a campaign around responsible dog ownership with stringent fines for owners who don’t control their dogs will drastically reduce the number of attacks on sheep,” O’Donnell concluded.