Stringent enforcement needed on new dog laws

Readers will recall the terrible case in Wexford last year when a young boy was savaged by a pit bull terrier. That story served as a rallying call for reform of dog ownership laws, as did the shocking attacks on sheep near Blarney in January which were covered in depth by this paper.

Earlier this week Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue brought proposals to the Cabinet on this matter which look promising.

The proposals include an increase in the fines which can be levied under the Control of Dogs Act from €2,500 up to €5,000 and there are also provisions which seek to improve dog traceability and welfare through the creation of a single centralized database for dog microchips.

That increase in fines is welcome, particularly as it should serve to protect members of the public from dogs which are not under the control of their owners.

Those who take advantage of parks, beaches, and greenways can attest to the numbers of large dogs which are allowed to run loose in those areas by their owners; small children in particular can find it a terrifying prospect to be confronted by an animal of their own size or larger.

Earlier in the week this paper carried the story of a court case which ended in an assault conviction — the incident was alleged to have started when one man’s Bernese mountain dogs got entangled with another’s husky dog ​​while they were both out walking.

Mr McConalogue’s proposals will also focus on closer regulation of breeding, and given the revelations about puppy farms in places such as north Cork in recent months, this is another welcome move. So is his recommendation that an extra 40 dog wardens be recruited across the country.

That latter measure, the increased number of wardens, is significant because it is a tacit admission that people will not take responsibility for their dogs’ behavior and that the area must therefore be policed.

Measures such as the control of dogs and the regulation of breeding may be less eye-catching, but the same commitment to enforcement is needed here as with the wardens. Laws governing dogs need to be enforced as stringently as any other piece of legislation.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo