Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys has today (Monday, April 22) launched a major national awareness campaign to remind dog owners of their responsibilities.

The campaign entitled – ‘It’s not your dog’s fault, it’s yours’ – is aimed at increasing awareness of the harm that out of control dogs can do to people and to livestock.

The minister said that the goal is to change behaviour and to remind owners that they must always have their dog under control.

The campaign follows a series of initiatives, including increasing on-the-spot fine up to €300, an additional €2 million for dog pounds and the establishment of the Dog Control Stakeholder Group.

The group, established last month and chaired by retired Deputy Garda Commissioner John Twomey, has been tasked with reviewing existing policy in relation to dog control and breeding establishments.

Dog owners

Minister Humphreys said that the new media campaign will run from today until the end of May across radio, print, and online media.

“Being a dog owner is a privilege, but it comes with a lot of responsibilities.

“We have seen far too many devastating attacks by dogs on people, especially young children, in recent times.

“I know the majority of dog owners are responsible and do the right thing. But we can all be guilty of thinking our dog wouldn’t hurt a fly.

“No matter how harmless a dog might seem they can be capable of causing a lot of damage. Ultimately, as the campaign says: it’s not your dog’s fault, it’s yours,” she said.

“Dog owners must make sure their dog is under control at all times, not running wild endangering people, livestock or other dogs.

“I want this campaign to make people think twice about letting their dog loose and uncontrolled,” Minister Humphreys added.

Livestock attacks

Last Friday, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) said that “urgent intervention” is needed from government to address the rising number of dog attacks on livestock.

IFA National Sheep Committee chair Adrian Gallagher made the comments following dog attacks on sheep in Roscommon, Sligo and Tipperary last week, which resulted in “significant losses” of animals for the farmers involved.

He said these are not isolated incidents but “part of a concerning trend that continues to devastate sheep farmers nationwide”.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue welcomed the new campaign, saying that he hopes it will encourage wider conversations on dog owner responsibilities.

“I know how traumatic dog attacks can be to people, especially children. I am also acutely aware of the devastation done to livestock by marauding dogs, causing terrible suffering to the animals and both emotional and financial distress to farming families.

“I believe it is essential we have conversations about responsible dog ownership and illustrating the dangers of marauding dogs, protecting people and animals from dog attacks,” he said.

“Dogs are a great addition to a home and a family, but owners must provide for their welfare and wellbeing, taking their responsibilities seriously. Dog owners should ensure their dog has regular visits to the vet, good nutritious food and water, exercise and mental stimulation,” the minister added.