Dogs Trust

The Public Consultation on a review of measures relating to the control of dogs in Ireland

Statement

Dogs Trust strongly believes that breed specific legislation should be repealed and that the list should be removed. If there is absolutely no possibility of this, then it is imperative that the government introduces measures to protect the welfare of the restricted dogs involved. Dogs Trust would also like to clearly state that in no scenario would we like to see any breeds banned in Ireland.

Breed specific legislation is based on the assumption that certain breeds and types of dogs are more ‘dangerous’ than other dog breeds. However, this is not supported by scientific evidence. Our stance on breed specific legislation has always been and remains unchanged - that we are proponents of “deed, not breed”, and would advise members of the public to be aware that any dog can bite, regardless of its breed, size, or type.

Dogs Trust has very real concerns about the effectiveness of breed specific legislation. We believe that prevention is key, and more emphasis is required to place responsibility on owners of aggressive dogs. We would like to see An Garda Síochána and local authorities given more resources to deal with the irresponsible owners of dangerous dogs.

Our main focus is to promote responsible dog ownership. We would encourage owners of all breeds to manage their dogs responsibly. Dogs Trust strongly advocates prevention as the best long-term solution to curb behavioural problems so we invest in nationwide education workshops on how to be a responsible dog owner and initiatives such as the ‘Be Dog Smart’ campaign, which educates children and adults how to behave around dogs.

It is important to remember that children should never be left unsupervised with any dog, whether they have known the dog all their lives or if they have only just met. We believe that children and adults need to be educated on how to behave around dogs and also to understand canine communication by being able to interpret body language signals appropriately to avoid dogs becoming increasingly anxious or fearful or placing them in any situation they might find worrying or challenging, in order to stay safe.

Topline Positions

  • Dogs Trust strongly believes that breed specific legislation should be repealed. If there is absolutely no possibility of this, then it is imperative that the government introduces measures to protect the welfare of the specific dog breeds listed.
  • Dogs Trust encourages the government to follow the example set by Italy, and to repeal breed specific legislation.
  • Dogs Trust believes that, in order to effectively tackle dog bites and dog attacks, preventative measures are crucial. Action is needed to ensure responsible dog ownership, traceability and accountability of dog owners and the identification and prevention of early signs of aggression. We would like to see preventative legislation on dog control which is breed neutral.
  • Better sharing of intelligence and joint working between local authorities and an Garda Siochána is needed in order to prevent dog bite incidents.
  • Scientific evidence demonstrates that all dogs have the capability to become aggressive. Breed specific legislation is therefore flawed in the assumption that the breeds and types of dogs that are on the restricted breed list are more ‘dangerous’ than other dog breeds.
  • Studies suggest that inappropriate human-dog interaction is almost always involved prior to attack. Education on dog behaviour and how to appropriately interact with dogs is therefore crucial to the prevention of dog bites and attacks.
  • In order to get a better understanding of the stray and surrendered dog situation in Ireland, further detail in recorded and published data is needed: including the dogs’ breed, age, sex, microchip, neuter status and reason for relinquishment.

Sources:

https://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/javma.243.12.1726

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318612983_Dog_bite_injuries_to_humans_and_the_use_of_breed-specific_legislation_A_comparison_of_bites_from_legislated_and_non-legislated_dog_breeds

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24299544