Number of dogs being put to sleep in Irish pounds doubles over 12 months

There was a 95% increase in stray dogs entering pounds in 2022, according to Government statistics

The number of dogs being euthanised in Irish pounds doubled between 2021 and 2022, with 340 dogs being put to sleep last year.

That is according to the latest dog control statistics released by the Department of Rural and Community Development, which also found there had been a 95 per cent increase in stray dogs entering pounds, from 4,165 in 2021, to 7,352 in 2022.

Under the Control of Dogs Act, dogs which have completed their mandatory five-day stay in Irish dog pounds can be euthanised if the pound cannot rehome them or find a rescue with space to take them.

Dogs Trust Ireland said it was “extremely concerned about the soaring levels of abandoned dogs” nationwide.


Corina Fitzsimons, PR and communications manager with the charity, said between January and July of 2023, Dogs Trust had 2,397 requests to take in dogs by members of the public.

She also said they were hearing the same from other charities, dog pounds and welfare organisations.

“It’s almost an impossible situation because we’ve got the rental crisis, the housing crisis, the cost-of-living crisis,” Ms Fitzsimons said.

She added that many people who got a dog during lockdowns when they were working from home were now being asked to return to the office full-time, and could no longer provide for them.

“Foster spaces are what we really need at the moment because we just don’t have the physical space for all the dogs who need us right now, so the more foster space we can create, the more dogs that we can have,” she added.

The majority of people coming to Dogs Trust to surrender their pet, according to Ms Fitzsimons, say they are doing so because of behaviour issues.

Department figures also indicate there were 791 complaints made by the public about aggressive dog behaviours last year, while 308 people were physically injured, including having damage to clothing.

Ellen O’Donoghue

Ellen O’Donoghue

Ellen O'Donoghue is an Irish Times journalist