New dog control measures include trebling of fines to €300

Heather Humphreys says people who do not comply with rules should be punished

People who do not look after their dogs ought to be punished, Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys said on Thursday as she announced that fines for those failing to control their dogs are to be trebled to €300.

Speaking during a visit to the headquarters of the Dogs Trust charity in Finglas, Dublin, Ms Humphreys said she was providing an additional €2 million to local authorities to cover vehicles for dog wardens. She said she was in discussions with Minister for Local Government Darragh O’Brien about hiring more wardens.

The Minister also announced the setting up of a “stakeholders group” made up of wardens, gardaí, farmers and animal welfare organisations. The group would consider whether court fines for dog owners should be increased from the current maximum level of €2,500.

Ms Humphreys previously said she wants to see court imposed fines for owners of dogs that attack livestock to be increased to €5,000, as “attacks on sheep can have a devastating impact on farmers, their business, and their families”.


“I want to see that those who don’t look after their dogs and treat them in a proper way, that they are punished,” she said. “It is wrong to let your dog go unleashed, to let it run around out of control, that is wrong. While we want to promote good dog ownership, we also have to have penalties for those that break the law.”

She referred to recent cases in which people were attacked and injured by restricted dog breeds and said it was important that owners remember their responsibilities.

In 2022 local authorities issued 1,684 on-the-spot fines to dog owners, though just 870 have been paid.

The dogs on Ireland’s restricted breeds list, which requires them to wear a muzzle in public and be on a leash of less than 2m include: the American Pit Bull Terrier, English Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bull Mastiff, Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, German Shepherd (Alsatian), Rhodesian Ridgeback, Japanese Akita, Japanese Tosa and a cross or mixture of any of the above breeds.

Restricted dogs must wear a collar at all times showing the owners’ name and address, and can only be led by people over the age of 16. No breed of dog is banned in the State.

The Dogs Trust said regardless of breed, all dogs must be under “effectual control”, according to the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013.

Ms Humphreys praised the “wonderful work” done by Dogs Trust and similar organisations. She said her family’s pet dog, a springer spaniel named Lady, had died recently and was greatly missed.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist