Under the Control of Dogs Act, 1986, all local authorities 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 Prevention of Cruelty Acts, 1911 and 1965.
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 over 4 months old unless you 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 Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Gardai, blind persons' guide-dogs, and any dog imported into the State for less than 30 days. Dog licences are issued by your post office or you may apply online for your Dog Licence. The revenue from dog licences finances the operation of dog control services in local areas throughout the country.
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 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 Gardai 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 you 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. Local authorities and the Gardai are required to keep a register of dogs seized by them and dogs detained by other people and notified to them. You can inspect this register at the offices of your local authority or in your local Garda station.
Unwanted dogs should be brought to the dog pound. The owner must produce a valid licence. A fee of €25 will be charged. Local authorities have the power to accept unwanted dogs and destroy or dispose of them if they are not rehomed.
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 less 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.
Under 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.
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 downloading and completing a special form under the Control of Dogs Act, 1986.
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.
Rules relating to certain breeds of dog
The Control of Dogs (Restriction of Certain Dogs) Regulations, 1991 impose additional rules in relation to the following breeds (and strains/cross-breeds) of dog in Ireland:
American Pit BullTerrier
English Bull Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
German Shepherd (Alsatian)
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 Gardai, 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.
No dog licence
On-the-spot fine: €100 payable to your local authority
Failure to pay on-the-spot fines can lead to prosecution in District Court with a maximum fine of €1,269.74 and/or 3 months imprisonment.
No identification on dog
On-the-spot fine: €100 payable to your local authority.
Failure to pay on-the-spot fines can lead to prosecution in District Court with a maximum fine of €1,269.74 and/or imprisonment.
Charge of €15 for every night dog is in pound.
Dogs not re-claimed from the dog pound within 5 days are put down/disposed of.
Dog not kept under control
On-the-spot fine €100 euro payable to your local authority.
Failure to pay on-the-spot fines can lead to prosecution in District Court with a maximum fine of €1,269.74 euro and/or 3 months imprisonment.
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 €3000 and/or 3 months imprisonment.
Information on the control of dogs in your area is available from your local authority. Contact information for your local authority is available at the front of all public telephone directories. Contact information for Garda stations in Ireland is available here.
Dog Licences are available at your local Post Office (An Post) or you may purchase your license online at www.offaly.ie/doglicences.