Owning a dog is not all fun and games – there’s a lot more to being a responsible dog owner. We take a look at the legal ins and outs…

Dog law In a nutshell

Local authorities are responsible for dog control and licensing. Under The Control of Dogs Acts (1986 and 1992) they have the power to appoint dog wardens, to provide shelter for stray dogs and to impose on-the-spot fines for offences and take court prosecutions. See here for a rundown on the law http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/environment/animal_welfare_and_control/control_of_dogs.html

Local authorities might operate their own dog control services or make arrangements with the ISPCA.

In addition to the core laws, local authorities can make further bye-laws, such as specifying where dogs must be kept on a lease, or where they’re not allowed at all. This is why you might find different rules in different local areas.

We take a look at the main doggie rules:

You must have a dog licence
At least it’s not anywhere near as expensive as a TV licence! You have to be over 16 to be issued with a dog license. It costs 20 Euro a year and can be purchased in the Post Office. You can also purchase a lifetime licence for 140 Euro. If you don’t have a licence you can be fined 100 Euro ‘on-the-spot’ if the dog warden comes a knockin’.

Your dog must have identification
You must make sure that your dog wears a collar with an attached plate, tag or disc with your name and address on it. From 2015 it is now also a requirement that your dog is microchipped. See our blog on microchipping https://www.petinsure.ie/microchipping-dog/ for more info on this.

Your dog must be under ‘effective’ control
This means that your dog comes back to you when called, doesn’t jump on or generally harass people or other animals, for example. If your dog isn’t considered to be under ‘effective’ control you can receive an ‘on-the-spot’ fine. If your dog attacks or injures another animal or person things can get a lot more serious – and costly.

These days, more and more local authorities have strengthened the ‘effective’ control rules by introducing bye-laws that specify where dogs have to be on leash etc. For more on this see our blog on Dog-friendly parks and beaches https://www.petinsure.ie/dog-friendly-parks-beaches-myth-reality/.

Your dog poops, you scoop
You’d need to be living under a rock if you didn’t know by now that if your dog poops in public you have to scoop and dispose of it ‘in a suitable sanitary manner’. It’s an offence against the Litter Pollution Act not to clean up after your dog, and you could be fined 150 euro ‘on-the-spot’. Many local walks and parks have pooper-scooper stations with bags and bins available for use. However, you’d be wise to bring your own pooper-scooper paraphernalia with you when you bring pooch out in public.

Stray Dogs
Any dog that’s in a public place unaccompanied (or not under ‘effective’ control) is considered a stray. Stray dogs can be seized by the dog warden or Gardaí and brought to the local dog pound. These dogs may be put down or disposed of if you don’t 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’ll have to pay a fee and produce a current dog licence.

Barking mad? Your bad
If your dog’s excessive barking is causing a nuisance it can be an offence under the noise pollution act. If you want to make a complaint about a barking dog, it’s best to first approach the dog-owner in a neighbourly manner and let them know how the barking is affecting you; they might well be oblivious. If that doesn’t work then you can make a complaint to the district court under noise regulations http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/environment/environmental_protection/noise_regulations.html.

You must first inform the dog owner in writing, using a prescribed form that you can get from your local authority http://www.environ.ie/en/Links/LocalAuthorities/.

Here’s to a law-abiding 2015 for you and your pet!