Council to trial tech to identify dead animals and notify owners

‘You have people waiting for cats to come home, or a dog... it would give closure’

South Dublin County Council has agreed to trial an innovative service in which staff will use a handheld scanner on dead animals removed from roads and other public spaces in a bid to identify them and their owners.

Where a pet microchip is detected, their owners can be contacted with the sad but conclusive news.

"You have people who are waiting for cats to come home, or a dog," said Fianna Fáil councillor Teresa Costello, who felt moved to help alleviate an all-too-common kind of family despair.

“If they were after being hit by a car [and their owners could be told], it would just end so much heartache; it would give them closure.”


Cllr Costello’s brainwave followed a recent conversation with an animal welfare activist who remarked upon the amount of dead animals whose owners would forever be in the dark.

Her motion, put to May’s South Dublin County Council meeting, asked chief executive Daniel McLoughlin if staff responsible for the removal of dead dogs and cats from public areas could be equipped with technology “so microchipped animals can be scanned and identified and owners notified that they are deceased”.

Cold storage

In an official response, management explained that small domestic animals are often removed from public roads when hit by vehicles. The bodies are double-bagged and placed in cold storage for later disposal.

“In many instances these animals are not recognisable, such is the extent of the injuries received, and this makes the task more difficult in these circumstances,” the report said.

“The risk assessment for this task requires that is carried out using full PPE including a face mask, due to the potential risks posed by dead animals. Staff are advised to complete the task as quickly as possible, in the interests of public safety as well as their own personal safety.”

Management said that while this careful procedure could not be altered, it had arranged the purchase of equipment “to enable the scanning of a deceased animal after it has been placed in cold storage, on a trial basis”. How owners would be contacted was not set out in the response.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times