A man in his 20s has been arrested in relation to an incident in Co Wexford on Sunday in which a nine-year-old boy was viciously attacked by a dog.
As a result of an investigation into “subsequent related matters”, the man was arrested on Tuesday morning under the provisions of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997.
He is being detained at Enniscorthy Garda station under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984. Gardaí said investigations are ongoing.
Meanwhile, the child remains in Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin receiving treatment
Alejandro Miszan was airlifted to Crumlin children’s hospital where he underwent two surgeries following the attack in Enniscorthy. He is expected to spend a month in care.
“I don’t think he can talk, we don’t really know,” his brother Raul told The Irish Times from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon. “He will never be the same again ... the dog just destroyed his life forever.”
Alejandro was out playing when he was attacked. A neighbour hit the pit bull dog with a baseball bat to try to end the attack, an intervention described by the boy’s family as heroic.
A Go Fund Me Page has been set up called Just Playing With His Friends to raise money for his treatment and recovery. It was approaching €30,000 on Tuesday afternoon.
“His face is destroyed; his chest is destroyed; everything is terrible. [He] is mauled,” Raul said.
Wexford County Council said on Tuesday that following the attack, it took possession of two other dogs. “The dogs will be assessed by the County Veterinary Officer and Wexford County Council are liaising with An Garda Síochána in relation to the investigation into the incident,” the council said. “The concern of Wexford County Council is for the welfare of the young boy injured and his recovery.”
Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne said he feared “it is only a matter of time” before a child loses their life because “we are seeing far too many of these attacks by some of these dogs”.
Highlighting the case of Alejandro, the Co Wexford Senator said there was another attack in Dublin earlier this year. “In fact, Dogs Trust Ireland reported that in 2020 there were 320 people hospitalised due to dog bites.”
Raising the issue in the Seanad Mr Byrne said that between 2016 and 2021, there were 1,705 attacks on humans by dogs and according to gardaí, there have been 1,351 attacks on livestock in the same period.
Animal welfare workers have noticed a rise in ownership of the pit bull breed linked to the mauling on Sunday.
A spokeswoman for the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it is incumbent on owners to control their pets.
Another veterinary source said such pit bull breeds of the kind associated with Sunday’s attack were “pointless”.
“Some of them can be nice but they aren’t worth the risk. If they attack they will do so much damage.”
Gardaí said they are continuing to investigate “all the circumstances” relating to the incident.
In Wexford where Sunday’s attack occurred, the local authority secured a court order to have a dog euthanised in 2018, but it did not mention the breed. Gardaí also prosecute in the county, a spokesman for the council said.
“Wexford County Council employs one full-time and one part-time dog warden [who] are very active in carrying out their duties. The council has the busiest pound kennels in the country for the past few years with 426 dogs impounded in 2021,” he said.
“Wexford County Council is liaising an Garda Siochána with the investigation of the shocking dog attack [on Sunday].”
Latest Government data shows there are 50 full-time and 21 part-time dog wardens employed by local authorities. In 2021 there were 924 fines and 97 prosecutions under broad Control of Dogs Acts legislation, but specific offences were not listed. Veterinary sources have pointed to problems around enforcement of restricted breed controls.
The Department of Rural and Community Development, which has responsibility for overall regulations, said it was liaising with Wexford County Council and was “committed to working with all agencies and relevant Departments to strengthen the issue of dog control and promote responsible dog ownership”. It did not say whether any review of the law was planned.
Addressing the Control of Dogs Act in 2015, then minister for the environment Alan Kelly said it had been the view of the Irish Veterinary Association (rebranded Veterinary Ireland) that the importation of a number of breeds including pit bull terriers be banned and that those existing in the country be neutered.