Control in Public
The owner or the person in charge of a dog may not permit the dog to be in a place other than the owner’s premises, the premises of the person in charge of the dog or the premises of another person with that latter person’s consent unless the person in charge of the dog accompanies it and keeps it under effective control.
If a dog worries livestock, the owner or person in charge will be guilty of an offence unless it is established that at the material time, the dog worried the livestock for the purpose of removing trespassing livestock and that, having regard to the circumstances, the action was reasonable and necessary.
A person shall not permit a greyhound in a public place unless he is being led using a sufficiently strong chain or leash. A person may not lead more than 4 greyhounds at once in a public place.
Liability for Injury
The owner of a dog is liable for damages or damage caused in an attack by the dog for injury done to livestock. It is not necessary to prove that the person knew the dog’s dangerous propensity. See generally the section on liability for animals under the civil liability section.
Where a complaint is made to the District Court by any interested person that a dog is dangerous and not kept under control or on conviction, it appears to the court that the dog is dangerous and if not kept under proper control, the court may order the dog to be kept under proper control or destroyed.
The expenses of destruction are payable by the owner. Expenses are recoverable as above. Where a dog is proven to have caused damage in an attack on any person or livestock, it may be dealt with as a dangerous dog.
It is a defence to an action for damages against a person for shooting a dog,
- that the dog was shot for worrying or about to worry livestock, and
- there was no other reasonable means of ending or preventing the worrying, or
- that he was a stray dog in the vicinity of a place where livestock had been killed or injured, and
- the defendant reasonably believed he had been involved in the injury or killing, and
- there is no practical means of seizing the dog or ascertaining to whom it belonged, and
- he was the person in charge of livestock, and
- he notified a member of Garda Síochána within 48 hours of the dog being shot.
A person may not, without reasonable excuse, permit livestock to remain unburied in any field to which a dog can have access. This does not apply to any carcass which has been treated with poison in accordance with the legislation on the protection of animals.
A search warrant may be granted where there are reasonable grounds for believing a dog has attacked or worried livestock, or persons in possession of the dog or there are reasonable grounds for believing the dog was involved in such an attack. The search warrant authorizes the Garda Síochána to enter the premises and search for the dog. The dog may be removed.
Nuisance / Barking
Where a complaint is made to the District Court by any person that it appears a nuisance is created because of excessive barking by a dog, the court
- may order the occupier to abate the nuisance by exercising due control over the dog
- may order that the number of dogs be limited at the premises
- may direct the dog be delivered to the dog warden to be dealt with as if he is an unwanted dog.
Before making a complaint, the person shall serve a prescribed form on the defendant, specifying his intention to make the complaint.
It is an offence to breach many provisions of the legislation. Generally, for the more minor offences, it is subject on summary conviction and a fine of up to €190 or imprisonment of up to 3 months, or both.
Where a dog warden has reasonable grounds for believing an offence has been committed, he may serve a penalty notice, specifying that on payment of this notice, the offence will not be prosecuted. This is an on the spot fine.
There are provisions for the making of grants by the Minister to local authorities.
Under the Litter Pollution Act 1997, it is an offence to allow a dog under a person’s control to foul a public place. The person in charge of the dog or owner must remove the faeces and dispose of them in a suitable sanitary manner.
A complaint may be made to the District Court against the owner or someone in charge of a dog who permits a dog to foul a public place and fails to act responsibly. Prior notice must be given.
There are regulations in relation to guard dogs. A guard dog at a non-residential premise must be either accompanied by a handler or secured so he cannot freely roam around the premises or escape. A notice must be shown that there is a guard dog on the premises.
The guard dog must wear a collar displaying its name and address. He must also carry an electronic implant as a permanent identification mark. It must be inserted under the direct supervision of a veterinary surgeon authorized by ISPCA. The cost is the owner’s responsibility.
Kennels, where more than 5 guard dogs aged over 4 months are kept, must register with the local authority.
Special Breed Controls
The Control of Dogs Regulations places additional obligations in respect of the following breeds;
- American, English and Staffordshire Bull Terriers
- Bull Mastiff
- Doberman Pinscher
- German Shepard/Alsatian
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Japanese Akita/Japanese Tosa
These dogs, and strains or crosses of them, must be kept on a short lead by a person aged over 16 years. They must be muzzled when in a public place. They must bear a collar with the name and address of the owner.
Bye-Laws & Fine Notices
There are on the spot fine applicable under byelaws that vary from place to place. There are fixed fines in respect of;
- Failure to have dog licences
- No identification
- Stray dog
- Dog not under control
- Breach of bylaws
- Dog fouling public place.
An individual dog licence is €20 per annum.
Many local authorities have introduced byelaws to provide that dogs must be kept on a leash or may be prohibited in certain places entirely.
Where faeces have been deposited by a dog in any place below, the person in charge of the dog shall immediately remove the faeces and shall ensure that it is properly disposed of in a suitable sanitary manner. This applies to a place that is
- a public road,
- land forming part of a retail shopping centre,
- a school ground, sports ground, playing field or recreational or leisure area,
- a beach,
- the curtilage of a dwelling the occupier of which has not consented to the presence of the dog in the curtilage, or
- such other place as may be prescribed.
This does not apply in respect of—
- a guide dog kept and used for the guidance of a blind person,
- a working dog used for the herding of livestock, or by a member of the Garda Síochána or the Customs and Excise service in connection with the official functions of the member, or a dog in such other circumstances as may be prescribed.
A person who contravenes this provision is guilty of an offence.
Offences involving, and powers of, litter wardens, etc. A person who obstructs or impedes a litter warden or a member of the Garda Síochána who is exercising functions is guilty of an offence. A litter warden or a member of the Garda Síochána who—
- has reasonable grounds for believing that a person is committing or has committed an offence under this Act, may request the person to give his or her name and address, and may request that the information given be verified, and
- is dissatisfied with the verification provided, may request that the person accompany the warden or member to a local authority office or Garda station for the purpose of the verification.