Huntsman whose dogs savaged fox in housing estate ordered to pay €1,000

19 Nov

sunday mail foxhunt piece (2).jpg

Leader of hunt that killed fox in garden must pay €1,000 to poor
Irish Mail on Sunday, 18th November 2018
by Craig Hughes

A huntsman whose dogs savaged a fox in a housing estate last year has been ordered to pay €1,000 to the poor box to avoid a criminal conviction.

John McSweeney was leading the hunt in Macroom, Co Cork on Stephen’s Day last year when his dogs chased a fox into a housing estate and killed it in the back garden of the home of mother-of-three Niamh Hodge.

When contacted by the Irish Mail on Sunday [MoS] after the incident, Mr McSweeney insisted his dogs didn’t kill the fox in the housing estate and claimed that the pictures of the dead fox provided to the MoS at the time were fake and had been previously circulated online.

“That picture has been used before by hunt saboteurs and it’s been taken off the internet,” he said at the time.

However, the MoS verified that the pictures were taken in Ms Hodge’s back garden and had not previously appeared online.

Last week, Mr McSweeney appeared at Macroom District Court charged under Section 9 of the Control of Dogs Act, which relates to dogs being in a place other than specified. After admitting to the offences, McSweeney was ordered to pay €1,000 to the poor box or reappear in court next month.

Ms Hodge said she was terrified when around 30 hounds chased a fox into her back garden and killed it.

She said: “I would have preferred to see him get a conviction but €1,000 is the maximum fine they could have been given under the Act.

“Hunting season has just started again. Every Sunday when you hear the dogs you get this feeling of panic. Are they going to get in again?”

The MoS phoned Mr McSweeney to ask if he wished to provide a comment for the story. However, he hung up and did not reply to text messages.

ACTION ALERT

This poor fox was killed in a housing estate in Macroom, just one mile away from Agriculture Minister Michael Creed’s constituency office.

Appeal to Minister Creed to remove an exemption for foxhunting from the Animal Health and Welfare Act.

Michael Creed TD
Minister for Agriculture
Agriculture House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Email: michael.creed@oir.ie
Tel: 01-607 2000 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michaelcreedtd
Tweet to: @creedcnw
Sign our “Ban Blood Sports in Ireland” petition
https://www.change.org/petitions/ban-blood-sports-in-ireland
Demand an immediate ban on hunting with hounds in Ireland. Contact the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) now.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar
Upper Merrion St, Dublin 2
Tel: +353 (0)1-6194020
Email: taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie, leo.varadkar@oireachtas.ie
Tweet to: @campaignforLeo
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/campaignforleo/

Tanaiste Simon Coveney TD
Iveagh House, 80 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2
Tel: +353 (0)1 408 2000
Email: simon.coveney@oireachtas.ie
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SimonCoveney
Tweet to: @simoncoveney
Please contact all your local politicians and ask them to push for a ban on this blood sport. Encourage your friends, family and workmates to contact them too. Visit the Oireachtas website for names of TDs and their email addresses http://www.oireachtas.ie/members-hist/default.asp?housetype=0&HouseNum=32&disp=mem
PREVIOUSLY:

Hungry for answers after fox’s death
Irish Mail on Sunday, 7th January 2018.

The Department of Agriculture is investigating the killing of a fox allegedly attacked by a pack of hounds in a Cork housing estate on St Stephen’s Day, the Mail on Sunday can reveal.

It comes after a report in last week’s MoS which revealed that a large pack of hunting dogs chased a fox into the back garden of homeowner Niamh Hodge in Macroom, and savaged it to death.

The housing estate adjoins a field where the Macroom Foxhounds Hunt was taking place that day. Our report was followed up by RTE and radio stations in Cork, with many horrified callers condemning the killing as ‘cruel’.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture told the MoS that the department is ‘concerned’ at the incident in Macroom, which occurred in Minister Michael Creed’s constituency, and has ordered an investigation.

In a statement, the spokesman said: ‘There is a detailed code of conduct in place in respect of the hunting of foxes which places responsibility on hunting associations to ensure that hunting is carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013. The department is aware of and concerned at the reported incident in Macroom and is investigating the matter.’

Gardai have begun a separate investigation following a complaint from Niamh Hodge.

But huntsman John McSweeney, who denies that their dogs killed the fox, refused to comment on the controversy this weekend.

by Niamh Walsh

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Maureen O’Sullivan TD questions Minister about breaches of coursing licences

17 Nov

Maureen O'Sullivan TD Stop the cruelty ban coursing

Thank you to Maureen O’Sullivan TD who this week questioned the Minister for Culture and Heritage about the ongoing breaches of coursing licences and called for licences to be revoked.

It is completely unacceptable that Minister Josepha Madigan continues licensing cruel coursing, particularly as fears grow for the future of the Irish Hare, with one leading ecologist warning that the species is in trouble, with numbers dwindling. Please help the hares – scroll down for urgent action alert.

Dail Question and Answer
Thursday, 15 November 2018
Hare Coursing Regulation

Maureen O’Sullivan TD (Dublin Central, Independent): To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her attention has been drawn to reports of continued breaching of licences by coursing clubs; and her views on whether harsher consequences in the form of licensing being revoked need to be taken to combat serious breaches of existing legislation in the capturing of hares for use in blood sports. [47406/18]

Josepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael): The control of live hare coursing, including the operation of individual coursing meetings and managing the use of hares for that activity, is carried out under the Greyhound Industry Act 1958, which is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. My responsibility relates to the conservation status of the hare.

In August last year, my Department issued licences under the Wildlife Acts to the Irish Coursing Club, covering some 87 affiliated coursing clubs, to capture and tag hares for use at regulated hare coursing meetings for the 2018/19 season, which extends from the end of September 2018 to the end of February 2019. Those licences contained a total of 25 conditions which have been developed and refined over the years.

Where resources allow, local National Parks and Wildlife Service Conservation Rangers from my Department attend coursing meetings, on a spot-check basis, to monitor compliance with licences issued to the ICC and its affiliated clubs. All issues arising from reports of NPWS staff will be reviewed and considered in the context of any licence application for the 2019/20 coursing season.

ACTION ALERT

With warnings from wildlife experts that the Irish Hare is in trouble, it is now more clear than ever that the species must be given full protection. Urgently contact Minister Josepha Madigan and the National Parks and Wildlife Service and demand that they revoke the 2018-19 hare coursing licence and end all forms of hare persecution.

Minister Josepha Madigan
Minister for Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht
Phone: +353 (0)1 631 3800
Email: josepha.madigan@oireachtas.ie, ministers.office@ahg.gov.ie, wildlifelicence@ahg.gov.ie, john.fitzgerald@ahg.gov.ie, Gerry.Leckey@ahg.gov.ie, nature.conservation@ahg.gov.ie
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://facebook.com/JosephaMadiganFG
Tweet to: @josephamadigan

John Fitzgerald
Director, National Parks and Wildlife Service
Phone: +353 (0)1 888 3242
Email: john.fitzgerald@ahg.gov.ie

VIDEOS

See the cruelty of hare coursing on our Youtube channel
https://www.youtube.com/icabs

SAMPLE LETTER
(If you have time, please compose your own personal letter. Otherwise, feel free to send the short sample letter below)

Dear Minister,

I am one of the majority who want hare coursing outlawed. I am writing to demand that you revoke the 2018-19 hare netting licence that has shamefully been issued.

In coursing, hares suffer and die at all stages – during the capture, during the time they are kept in captivity and during the coursing meetings where they run for their lives in front of greyhounds. Among the injuries recorded are broken legs, damaged toes and dislocated hips.

I ask you to please act on the wishes of the majority, show compassion and end this cruelty.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

[Name/Location]

The Irish Hare is a protected species but an exemption for coursing in the Animal Health and Welfare Act means coursers are not liable for prosecution for their cruelty. Join us in our call to the government to remove the exemption and provide full and permanent protection to this cherished species.

Contact An Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar and ask him to ban hare coursing and give permanent protection to hares.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar
Department of the Taoiseach,
Government Buildings,
Upper Merrion St, Dublin 2
Telephone: +353 (0)1-6194020
Email: taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie, leo.varadkar@oireachtas.ie
Tweet to: @campaignforLeo Tweet to @campaignforLeo
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/campaignforleo/

Express your support for a ban on coursing. Sign and share the petitions

Ireland: Ban cruel hare coursing
https://www.change.org/p/ireland-ban-cruel-hare-coursing

Ban Blood Sports in Ireland
https://www.change.org/petitions/ban-blood-sports-in-ireland

Support our campaign with a donation
https://www.paypal.me/banbloodsports

Clare Daly TD questions minister about illegal hunting

16 Nov

dail question clare daly illegal hunting copy


Independent TD Clare Daly (Dublin Fingal) has asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht what action is being take to tackle illegal hunting and the effects it is having on rural communities…

Dail Question and Answer
15/11/2018

Clare Daly TD: To ask the Minister for Culture; Heritage and the Gaeltacht the steps she will take to address the effects of an increase in illegal hunting on rural communities; and if she will make a statement on the matter

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan: My remit in this matter relates to the species protected under the Wildlife Acts and under the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 All bird species are protected and animals such as badgers, deer, otters, bats and hares are also protected.

Officials of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department monitor compliance with the Wildlife Acts and the European Community (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 across the country on an on-going basis and carry out patrols and site visits to enforce the various provisions of these Acts, as much as possible. They also investigate reports of breaches of the Acts with a view to initiating prosecutions where there is sufficient evidence to support same. Members of An Garda Síochána are also empowered under the Wildlife Acts and the European Communities legislation to investigate alleged offences and to prosecute if they see fit.

Officials of the NPWS are aware of the impact that illegal hunting, especially badger baiting and hare lurching, is having on some local communities. My Department is working closely with An Garda Síochána in relation to wildlife crime. Earlier this year, the NPWS organised a Wildlife Crime conference at which a number An Garda Síochána Officers attended. The NPWS and an Garda Síochána are currently developing closer and more formal liaison arrangements for sharing of information and intelligence and the carrying out of joint operations in relation to wildlife crime.

High Court dismisses greyhound owner’s application for judicial review

13 Nov
The High Court has dismissed a Tipperary greyhound owner/trainer’s application for a judicial review of a decision taken by the Control Appeal Committee of the Irish Greyhound Board.
 
Irish Legal News is reporting today: “The Appeal Committee had dismissed the man’s appeal against a finding that a prohibited substance was present in three of his greyhounds. Refusing to quash the decision taken by the [IGB] Appeal Committee, Ms Justice Miriam O’Regan said that the man had failed to discharge the burden of proof necessary to condemn the decision.”
 
Outlining the background to the case, Irish Legal News details that “on three dates in September 2015, at Shelbourne Park greyhound stadium, various samples were taken from three greyhounds belonging to Mr Owen McKenna. In February 2017, the Control Committee of the Irish Greyhound Board issued a decision in circumstances where it was satisfied that a prohibited substance, hydrochlorothiazide, was present Mr McKenna’s greyhounds. A total fine of €1,000 was imposed and certain prize money forfeited.” Read the full report at https://www.irishlegal.com/article/high-court-greyhound-owner-fails-to-quash-finding-that-a-prohibited-substance-was-present-in-his-animals
 
Owen McKenna is the individual who was previously sentenced to three months imprisonment after being filmed at an illegal greyhound blooding session. In 1994, McKenna (then 23 years old) and four others received prison sentences from Judge Michael Patwell who described their crime as “horrible savagery”. The blooding session was secretly filmed by a BBC journalist at a private greyhound training track in Tipperary. The video footage which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q33yiORJfXs shows Owen McKenna “present as the McKenna dogs are fed live rabbits”. Earlier that day, dozens of rabbits were delivered to the track in cages. In the BBC film, the rabbit cries are clearly audible.
 
Owen McKenna is also a trainer of greyhounds used in the bloodsport of hare coursing. A greyhound he trained was the winner of the “Grace and Matt Bruton Champion Bitch Stakes” final at Clonmel in February.
 
A photograph published by The Nationalist newspaper in February shows an Owen McKenna-trained coursing greyhound. The photo, taken in November 2017, includes Owen McKenna along with the husbands of the owners of the dog – Donal O’Connor (chairman of Clonmel Greyhound Track) and Pat Creed (Irish Greyhound Board member). Also in the photograph was former Fine Gael TD and Senator Tom Hayes –
 
According to the Irish Greyhound Board website, Owen McKenna has 5,805 recorded race entries to-date and 1,730 winners. So far in 2018, he has had 210 race entries and 52 winners.
 
The latest High Court decision follows a similar one in September in which the court dismissed Judicial Review proceedings taken by Graham Holland in relation to samples taken from greyhound Clonbrien Hero. In three races at Curraheen Park track in Cork in June and July last year, traces of the drug benzoylecgonine (the principal metabolite of cocaine) were found.
 
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What is blooding? The blooding of greyhounds – using live rabbits, hares, kittens and other small animals – is a cruel and illegal training method in the greyhound industry. It is believed to be common in Ireland. One Irish Independent greyhound scene journalist noted: “The bald truth is that greyhound racing would not continue to exist without blooding. It follows that, with a constant greyhound population of close on 30,000, blooding must be widespread. Don’t expect an admission of that from Bord na gCon.”
 
 
ICABS ACTION ALERT
 
Don’t attend greyhound races or fundraisers/hen parties/office parties held at greyhound tracks.
 
The greyhound industry has received nearly a quarter of a billion euros of taxpayers’ money since 2001 (including €16 million for 2018 and €16.8 million for 2019). Urge Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to end funding to the greyhound industry and instead direct the money to charities and other deserving causes. Email “Stop funding the greyhound industry” to taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie, leo.varadkar@oireachtas.ie, paschal.donohoe@oireachtas.ie, minister@per.gov.ie
 
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar
Department of the Taoiseach,
Government Buildings,
Upper Merrion St, Dublin 2
Telephone: +353 (0)1-6194020
Email: taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie, leo.varadkar@oireachtas.ie, finegael@finegael.ie
Tweet to: @campaignforLeo
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/campaignforleo/
 
Paschal Donohoe TD
Minister for Finance
Email: paschal.donohoe@oireachtas.ie, minister@per.gov.ie
Phone: +353 (0)1 6045810
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaschalDonohoe/
Tweet to @Paschald
 
 

Dog night fundraiser sparks parent protest

12 Nov

Dog night fundraiser sparks parent protest
Killarney Today, November 12, 2018
by John O’Mahony

A MEETING has taken place this Monday between the principal of a Killarney primary school and a concerned parent who has questioned the wisdom of organising a Night at the Dogs fundraiser for the school given that it involves gambling and raises issues for some about animal welfare.

St Oliver’s National School is to benefit from the fundraising event at the Kingdom Greyhound Stadium which will help offset rising costs incurred in running such a busy educational facility.

The event is being organised by the School’s Parents’ Association and it is scheduled to take place at the Tralee track on Friday, November 23.

But parent, Phillipa Christie, has served notice that she and others plan to stage a protest outside the stadium on the night as she doesn’t believe it is an appropriate activity for a school to hold.

She told KillarneyToday.com that it doesn’t give a positive message in terms of animal welfare concerns and she doesn’t agree with either greyhound racing or gambling on dogs. She was further upset that the school sent out notes promoting the event in the children’s schoolbags.

“I don’t think it is right to expose children to gambling in this way. It’s a bad idea. They are offering free admission to children under 14 with bouncy castles and face painting,” said Ms Christie who has a daughter attending St Oliver’s.

She added that she has written to the school principal to outline her concerns and she donated the €10 price of a ticket for the event to the school. Her message to other parents is donate – don’t participate.

Ms Christie said a Christmas craft fair would have been a much more appropriate fundraising idea for the school and she offered her services to organise an event of that kind.

The concerned mother, who lives in Killorglin, said she will hold a peaceful protest outside the greyhound stadium on the night and she has been contacted by a number of groups and other parents who plan to join her.

St Oliver’s Principal, Rory D’Arcy, told KillarneyToday.com that he was meeting with Ms Christie this Monday and that the school would engage with her and examine the issues raised.

“We will ensure that we are well verses on what fundraising events like this actually entail,” he said.

Mr D’Arcy said he is aware of a number of GAA clubs, community organisations and, indeed, children’s charities, like St Gabriel’s Respite School and Centre in Limerick, that have held similar Night at the Dogs fundraisers and that Bord na nGon is a reputable body that runs its operations very professionally.

The principal said all children that attend on the night of the fundraiser will have to be accompanied by an adult.

Early this afternoon, Ms Christie posted a message on Facebook saying she had a meeting with the school and the event is still going ahead as they feel it is too short notice to cancel.

https://www.killarneytoday.com/dog-night-fundraiser-sparks-parent-protest/

—————————-

ICABS ACTION ALERT

Don’t attend greyhound races or fundraisers/hen parties/office parties held at greyhound tracks.

Join us in urging St Oliver’s School to recognise how inappropriate it is to fundraise at a gambling venue where animals suffer injuries, cry out in agony and are killed.

Mr Rory D’Arcy
Principal
St Oliver’s School
Ballycasheen
Killarney
Co. Kerry
Ireland
Email: rorydarcy@stolivers.ie; info@stolivers.ie
Phone +353 64 6632047

Contact the Minister for Children and ask her to urgently intervene to stop the Irish Greyhound Board targeting children.

Katherine Zappone, TD
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
43-49 Mespil Rd, Dublin 4
Phone: 085 2196189 OR 01 647 3000
Email: Katherine.Zappone@oireachtas.ie
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KatherineZappone/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KZapponeTD

Sign our petition – Irish Government: Stop Funding Cruel Greyhound Racing Industry
https://www.change.org/p/irish-government-stop-giving-millions-of-euro-to-cruel-greyhound-industry

Watch our campaign video
Why you should say NO to greyhound track fundraisers

The cruel and crumbling greyhound industry has received nearly a quarter of a billion euros of taxpayers’ money since 2001 (including €16 million for 2018 and €16.8 million for 2019). Urge Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to end funding to the greyhound industry and instead direct the money to charities and other deserving causes. Email “Stop funding the cruel greyhound industry” to taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie, leo.varadkar@oireachtas.ie, paschal.donohoe@oireachtas.ie, minister@per.gov.ie

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar
Department of the Taoiseach,
Government Buildings,
Upper Merrion St, Dublin 2
Telephone: +353 (0)1-6194020
Email: taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie, leo.varadkar@oireachtas.ie, finegael@finegael.ie
Tweet to: @campaignforLeo
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/campaignforleo/

Paschal Donohoe TD
Minister for Finance
Email: paschal.donohoe@oireachtas.ie, minister@per.gov.ie
Phone: +353 (0)1 6045810
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaschalDonohoe/
Tweet to @Paschald

20 Tayto Park animals died in 2017, 30 in 2016

12 Nov

20 of 300 Tayto Park animals died in 2017.jpg

 

20 of 300 Tayto Park animals died in 2017
by Darragh McDonagh – The Herald, 12 November 2018

Almost 7pc of the animal population at Tayto Park died last year, the zoo has confirmed.

The mortality rate of 6.7pc represents a reduction in the number of animal deaths at the theme park since 2016, when 30 animals – or 7.9pc of its collection – died.

Last year, Tayto Park sought to prevent the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht from releasing details of animal deaths at its zoo, claiming that the information would damage its business and result in negative publicity.

A copy of an animal inventory that it had provided to the department as part of an inspection process was eventually released under the Freedom of Information Act following an appeal, revealing the 2016 figures.

However, no animal inventory was submitted by Tayto Park to the department in respect of last year, making it the only zoo in the country not to furnish such a document.

Instead, the theme park permitted an official to inspect the inventory on site, without providing a copy to the department.

The document could therefore not be accessed under Freedom of Information rules.

A departmental inspection report from November 2017 noted that there were “just under” 300 animals in the collection at Tayto Park at the time, and the mortality rate for the first 10 months of the year was “approximately 5pc”.

Tayto Park confirmed that the animal mortality rate on the date of inspection was 5.3pc, but said that this had increased to 6.7pc by the end of the year.

This would equate to just over 20 deaths in a population of 300 animals.

The mortality rate on the day of inspection was described as “impressive” by the zoo licence inspector, who also praised its “spacious” enclosures and “stimulating habitats”.

“There has been considerable investment… in the animal enclosures, with the end result being a superb mix of entertainment with a well-considered zoo element,” added the report.

A spokesperson for Tayto Park said that it was dedicated to ensuring optimal welfare and best-practice husbandry for the animals in its care.

“Sadly, death is very much a part of life, and despite our best efforts, it is not always possible to extend an animal’s life, irrespective of intervention or the quality of care provided,” the spokesperson added.

“Every animal is part of our family, and each loss is very personal to the team at Tayto Park.”

Earlier this year, it emerged that 30 animals died at the theme park in 2016.

These included a Harris hawk, a bald eagle, a meerkat, a lionhead rabbit, a number of farmyard animals, and all three of the zoo’s Vietnamese pot-belly pigs.

Half of Tayto Park’s collection of white-lipped, red-bellied tamarin monkeys and Goeldi’s monkeys, which have a vulnerable conservation status, were also wiped out by an infection during the year.

https://www.herald.ie/news/20-of-300-tayto-park-animals-died-in-2017-37517309.html

Ireland has “really bad international reputation as puppy farm capital of Europe”

10 Nov


“We still have this really bad international reputation as the puppy farm capital of Europe” – Independent TD Tommy Broughan highlights the “horror stories” in puppy farming and questions the Minister for Rural and Community Development about inspections and enforcement…

Dog Breeding Industry
Dáil debates, 8 November 2018

Tommy Broughan (Dublin Bay North, Independent) The Minister told us at the end of 2017 that there were almost 260 dog breeding establishments registered with various local authorities. Some 36 were registered in Limerick city and county, 35 in Cork and 28 in Wexford. The various numbers were supplied. Inspection fees amounted to €83,000. Between 2013 and 2017 four closure and 31 improvement notices were issued, but four improvement notices were appealed to the District Court. What were the numbers of inspections, by county, in 2016, 2017 and to date in 2018 and the outcomes in cases of breaches of the guidelines?

Seán Canney (Galway East, Independent) My Department has overall responsibility for the Dog Breeding Establishment Act 2010. Statistics for dog related activities undertaken by local authorities are published on the Department’s website. They include information on dog breeding establishments which are defined in legislation as premises with “6 or more bitches, over 6 months old and capable of being used for breeding purposes”.

The statistics show that the total number of dog breeding establishments registered for all counties was 248 in 2016 and 258 in 2017. The total number of inspections was 250 in 2016 and 275 in 2017. There were 79 commercial dog breeding establishments in 2016 and 74 in 2017. The remainder were hunt clubs, boarding kennels and animal welfare shelters. Details, by county, are available on my Department’s website and will be provided for the Deputy separately. The 2018 statistics will be collated and published in early 2019.

Local authorities are responsible for operational activities, including enforcement. Where appropriate, they may issue improvement or closure notices, or work with the owners of premises to ensure compliance. In that context, they also work closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, as the enforcement of animal welfare standards for all animals, including dogs, is a matter for that Department.

Tommy Broughan (Dublin Bay North, Independent) What is unusual about this is that the responsibilities are divided among three Departments – the Departments of Rural and Community Development, Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Housing, Planning and Local Government – which is very unsatisfactory. It is similar to responsibility for traffic law being divided between the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

We still have this really bad international reputation as the puppy farm capital of Europe. The UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, is planning to introduce legislation on puppy farms and puppy smuggling and the alleged illegal trade in this country has been highlighted as a major issue. In fact, the United Kingdom wants to inaugurate a regime that will outlaw third party sales and under which one will only be able to buy a puppy from a legitimate breeder. We still have horror stories coming in about illegal breeders being discovered with perhaps hundreds of dogs in very bad conditions. It is a major responsibility for the Department. My colleague, Deputy Clare Daly, raised this issue many times with the Minister of State’s predecessor. I have been informed that she has been in contact with the Minister of State’s office and that the previous Minister of State, Deputy Kyne, agreed to meet the voluntary groups and very distinguished animal rights activists on animal rights, the inspection of dog breeding establishments and the new guidelines from January 2019. As I know that the Minister of State tries to reach out to people, will he guarantee that he will meet the activists as soon as possible?

Seán Canney (Galway East, Independent) Absolutely. If the commitment was made by the Minister of State, Deputy Kyne, I will honour it. My officials will be in contact with the Deputy on that. He is correct that three Departments are involved in the overall control of dogs. My Department is involved in the policy area. The dog breeding establishment guidelines were published in July and will come into effect in January 2019. They have been well received by people involved in the business of dog breeding. Of course, it might be said we should go further with certain aspects, but the guidelines need time to work. The local authorities are the enforcement agencies, while the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has overall responsibility for the welfare of animals, which includes dogs. From what I have seen, I can guarantee that the three Departments work very closely together to ensure there is a huge shift towards focusing on the welfare of dogs and puppies. That is what it is all about.

Tommy Broughan (Dublin Bay North, Independent) It certainly is. We love our dogs and want to ensure dog breeders breed and rear dogs in very good conditions and treat dogs very well. The key point the Minister of State made relates to local authorities. I have the new guidelines with me and they contain some good aspirations, but will the Minister of State be able to give the local authorities additional resources when they come into force? The number of inspections each year appears to be very low. Ultimately, it comes down to the number of inspections and enforcements. Breeders being able to go to the courts in that regard is significant. There was a huge response from the public to the dog breeding guidelines between December 2016 and February 2017, with well over 100 submissions received. However, the key point concerns enforcement. We still hear horror stories such as the one about the 86 dogs rescued from an illegal establishment in Roscommon. Dogs Trust and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ISPCA, on behalf of the public, have to look after these animals which are often in very bad condition. The last time the 2010 Act was reviewed was by the former Minister, Deputy Phil Hogan. The ratio of staff under the guidelines is still 1:25, rather than 1:10 one in breeding establishments, as advocated in the guidelines.

Seán Canney (Galway East, Independent) The funding for local authorities comes from the Local Government Fund, not my Department. However, I accept what the Deputy said and will convey it to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. The guidelines are the result of huge consultation with all stakeholders, which is important. They will help the local authorities and veterinarians and the established dog breeding establishments that are working properly to continue to do so. Of course, there are illegal activities, but the more we talk about and highlight them the better it will be for the welfare of animals. I come from a rural area and dogs are part of our lives. In the countryside every farm has a dog. As they are part of our families, we must ensure their welfare is protected.

ACTION ALERT

Don’t buy from breeders while dogs wait in dog pounds and animal shelters for loving homes.