Animal Care

Dog Owners Legal Responsibilities

Did you know as dog owner you have many legal responsibilities and you can be fined or imprisoned if you don't comply with these regulations?  Dog Wardens and the Gardai have the powers to enforce these legislations.

Under the Control of Dogs Act 1986 as amended by the Control of Dogs (Amendment) Act 1992 all local authorities in Ireland are responsible for the control of dogs. Local authorities have the power to appoint dog wardens, provide dog shelters, seize dogs, impose on-the-spot fines and take court proceedings against owners.

You are liable for injury or damage caused by your dog to people or livestock.

You can be disqualified from keeping a dog if you have been convicted of cruelty to a dog under the Protection of Animals Acts 1911 and 1965.

Dog Licences

In order to obtain a dog licence, you must be over 16 years of age. It is an offence for you to keep a dog unless you have a licence. All dogs over four months must have a licence. Puppies under four months who are still with their mothers don't require licences but once they leave their mothers they must have a licence. Your dog must be accompanied by and be under your effective control or the control of another responsible person if it is outside your home or premises or the home or premises of the person in charge of it.

You can be requested by a dog warden to produce evidence of your dog licence and failure to do so can result in an on-the-spot fine. Failure to pay this fine within a specified period can result in prosecution by your local authority. Licences are not required for dogs in the possession of the County Council, the DSPCA, Gardaí, blind persons' guide-dogs, and any dog imported into the State for less than 30 days. Licences are valid for one year.

Dog licences are issued by your post office or your local authority. The revenue from dog licences finances the operation of dog control services in local areas throughout the country.

  • Individual  –  covers one dog for a period of 12 months - €20 
  • General  –  for owners of kennels for a period of 12 months - €400
  • Lifetime  –  for the lifetime of the dog for which the licence is issued - €120

You can obtain a dog licence at your local post office or local authority anywhere in the country.

Dog Identification

Dogs must at all times wear a collar that bears the name and the address of the owner inscribed on it or on a plate, badge or disc. Failure to have identification on a dog can result in an on-the-spot fine issued by a dog warden. Failure to pay this fine within a specific period can result in prosecution by your local authority.

Stray Dogs

Stray dogs are dogs that are in a public place and are not accompanied by the owner or a responsible person. Dogs that are not under proper control are also considered stray dogs. You can receive an on-the-spot fine if your dog is not under proper control. Stray dogs may be seized by the dog warden and the Gardaí and brought to the local dog pound. These dogs may be put down or disposed of if their owners do not claim them within 5 days. If your dog has strayed or is missing, you should contact the local dog pound directly to check whether or not your dog has been picked up. Before you pick up your dog, you will have to pay a re-claim fee and produce a current dog licence. If you do not have a current dog licence, you must obtain one from your local post office before collecting your dog.

Unwanted dogs

Unwanted dogs should be brought to the dog pound where they are accepted free of charge. Local authorities have the power to accept unwanted dogs and destroy or dispose of them if they are not rehomed.

Dog Wardens

Dog wardens have the power to request the name and address of a person suspected of an offence under the Control of Dogs Act. They also have the power to seize and detain any dog and to enter any premises, other than a residence with 5 or more dogs, to seize and detain a dog. You are guilty of an offence and can be arrested by a Garda if you obstruct a dog warden in the course of his or her work, refuse to give your name and address or give a false name and address.

Bye-laws

Many local authorities have introduced bye-laws to indicate areas where dogs must be kept on a leash or even prohibited. Your local authority will be able to inform you of the bye-laws that apply in your area. Breaches of these bye-laws relating to dogs in your area can result in fines on summary conviction.

Dog Faeces

Under new litter laws (Section 22 of the Litter Pollution Act 1997), it is an offence to allow a dog under your control to foul a public place. This means the owner/person in charge of the dog is required under this law to remove dog faeces and dispose of it in a suitable, sanitary manner. You can make a complaint to the District Court under the litter laws against an owner or someone in charge of a dog who allows that dog to foul public places and who fails to act responsibly. Before you do this, you must first inform the dog owner of your intention by completing a special form available from the Dog Control Unit of your local authority. You can read more about litter laws in Ireland here.

Barking Dogs

Excessive dog barking that causes a nuisance is an offence. Your District Court can make an order requiring the reduction of excessive barking by a dog, can limit the number of dogs that can be kept on a premises or can direct that a dog be delivered to a dog warden as an unwanted dog.

You can make a complaint about excessive barking to the District Court under Noise Regulations. Before you do this, you must first inform the dog owner of your intention by completing a special form under the Control of Dogs Act, 1986. These forms are available from your local authority.

Guard dogs

A guard dog used at a non-residential business premises must be either accompanied by a handler or secured so that it cannot roam freely around the premises or escape.

A notice informing the public that a guard dog is on the premises must be displayed at the entrance.

The guard dog must wear a collar displaying the name and address of its owner.

The guard dog must carry an electronic implant containing a permanent identification mark given to the dog by the ISPCA. This implant must be inserted by or under the direct supervision of a veterinary surgeon authorised by the ISPCA. The dog owner is responsible for the cost involved in inserting the implant.

Kennels where more than 5 guard dogs, aged over 4 months are kept must register with the local authority. You should be aware that there are specific rules in place regarding the keeping of guard dogs in Ireland. You can read more about these rules here: SI 329/1989: Control of Dogs Act 1986 (Guard Dog) Regulations 1989.

Rules relating to certain breeds of dog

The Control of Dogs Regulations 1998 (S.I. No. 442 of 1998) impose additional rules in relation to the following breeds (and strains/cross-breeds) of dog in Ireland:

American Pit Bull Terrier

american_pit_bull

English Bull Terrier

british_pit_bull_terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire_Bull_Terrier

Bull Mastiff

Bull_Mastiff

Dobermann Pinscher

Doberman

Rottweiler

rottweiler

German Shepherd (Alsatian)

German_Shepherd

Rhodesian Ridgeback

RhodesianRidgeback

Japanese Akita

japanese_akita

Japanese Tosa

JapaneseTosa

Bandog

bandog

 

 

The rules state that:

  • These dogs (or strains and crosses of them) must be kept on a short strong lead by a person over 16 years who is capable of controlling them
  • These dogs (or strains and crosses of them) must be muzzled whenever they are in a public place
  • These dogs (or strains and crosses of them) must wear a collar bearing the name and address of their owner at all times.

The rules on muzzling and leashing do not apply to dogs used by the Gardaí, the Dublin Harbour Police, State Airport Police and bona fide rescue teams in rescue operations. The rules on muzzling do not apply to guide dogs for the blind.

Penalties

Your local authority has the power to introduce bye-laws relating to dog control in your area. You should be aware that the penalties listed below are a guide; fines in your area may be higher.

 

Offence

Fines

Penalty

No dog licence

On-the-spot fine: €30 payable to your local authority

Failure to pay on-the-spot fines can lead to prosecution in District Court with a maximum fine of €1904.61 and/or 3 months imprisonment

No identification on dog

On-the-spot fine: €30 payable to your local authority.

Failure to pay on-the-spot fines can lead to prosecution in District Court with a maximum fine of €1904.61 and/or 3 months imprisonment

Stray dog

Dog pound re-claim fee of €20. Charge of €8 for every night dog is in pound.

The pound will hold a dog for at least 5 days. Dogs not re-claimed from the dog pound within 5 days may be put down/disposed of.

Dog not kept under control

On-the-spot fine of €30 payable to your local authority

Failure to pay on-the-spot fines can lead to prosecution in District Court with a maximum fine of €1904.61 and/or 3 months imprisonment

Breach of bye-laws (setting out times when dog may be unleashed in public)

Fines up to €1,904.61 on conviction.

 

Dog fouling public place

Owners/handlers who do not dispose of dog faeces in a responsible manner may receive an on-the-spot fine of €150.

Failure to pay on-the-spot fines can lead to prosecution in District Court with a maximum fine of €3,000 and €600 per day for continuing offences on Summary Conviction

Unleashed Dogs & Dogs on prohibited beaches

On-the-spot fine: €30 payable to your local authority.

Failure to pay on-the-spot fines can lead to prosecution in District Court with a maximum fine of €1904.61 and/or 3 months imprisonment

 

 

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