Those who do not have ‘effectual control’ of their dog will face an on-the-spot fine of €300 from December 1, 2023.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, has today (Thursday, November 9) announced a suite of new measures designed to enhance dog control.

During a visit to the national headquarters of the Dogs Trust Charity in Co. Dublin, Minister Humphreys confirmed:

  • That she has today signed regulations that will see on-the-spot fines for more serious offences under the Control of Dogs Act increase from €100 to €300;
  • The establishment of a €2 million fund to upgrade local authority shelter facilities and vehicles nationwide;
  • A high-level stakeholder group will be asked to consider wider issues such as expanding the list of ‘restricted breeds’. This is in light of a series of recent incidents involving attacks.

Speaking today, Minister Humphreys voiced her concerns over these recent incidents and said she believes this suite of measures is important in terms of promoting responsible dog ownership.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, visited the national headquarters of Dogs Trust Ireland in Finglas, Dublin

Minister Humphreys stated: “Dogs can be a wonderful addition to a family or farm, however dog owners must take responsibility to ensure their dogs do not cause harm or nuisance to people or property.

“Recent events have again highlighted the dangers posed by dogs and my thoughts are very much with those recovering following these horrific experiences.

“So today, I am pleased to announce that I have signed regulations to triple on-the-spot fines under the Control of Dogs Act for more serious offences.

“I want to send a strong message to dog owners – if your dog is not controlled you will be fined. And if you own a restricted dog, you must comply with the regulations.”

The minister also warned owners that multiple fines can apply, e.g., a restricted dog without muzzle, collar or dog licence may attract three separate fines.

Stakeholder Group

In addition to the overhaul of fines, the minister announced her decision to establish a high level Stakeholder Group, with membership due to be finalised in the days ahead.

The minister confirmed that she will be asking this Stakeholder Group to examine expanding the list of ‘restricted breeds’.

Explaining the remit of the group, Minister Humphreys said: “I recognise there is a wide variety of opinions in relation to how we, as a country, address issues of dog control and the very real public concern over dog attacks.

“For that reason, I have set up a high level stakeholder group comprising a range of sectoral interests and experts to advise on the most appropriate responses.

“While not pre-empting the work of the group, I do note decisions taken by the UK in terms of restricting certain dangerous breeds by the end the year.

“I think it is only appropriate that our own stakeholder group consider the merits of adopting a similar approach here, particularly in light of recent worrying incidents whereby people and livestock have been attacked,” she added.

Funding for dog control

Minister Humphreys announced the establishment of a €2 million fund under a Dog Control Support Initiative.

Under this initiative, funding will be provided to Local Authorities to upgrade their pounds and shelter facilities, and to move towards cleaner, electric vehicles for dog wardens.

This funding comes as a direct response to increased pressures on dog control services particularly in light of increasing numbers of strays and surrenders entering pounds over the past year.

This funding will make immediate and tangible improvements to the dog control service across the country, according to the minister.

The biggest allocation of funding will go to Co. Cork with a figure of €98,020, but Dublin, Wexford and Tipperary will also receive the next largest allocations.

Speaking today, Minister Humphreys acknowledged the work of dog wardens and dog control personnel, in what she said can often be a challenging role.

“I am pleased to announce €2 million in funding towards dog control service improvements,” she said.

“This will see the upgrading of dog shelter facilities, dog pounds and vehicles used by dog wardens.

“We all know the difficult role dog control personnel play in our communities and the increased pressures they are facing as they deal with large numbers of stray and unwanted dogs,” the minister added.