ballAPDT Ireland support for Veterinary Ireland’s call to Minister Coveney to end the current dog breed-specific legislation in Ireland

    On September 9th 2016, Veterinary Ireland released a policy document calling upon Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney, to end the current dog breed-specific legislation currently in force in Ireland.

    The Association of Pet Dog Trainers Ireland wishes to lend our full support to Veterinary Ireland. We join Veterinary Ireland’s call for the repeal of the current legislation in which specific breeds of dog are targeted, to be replaced by new, modern legislation which not only reflects our much-improved, research-led understanding of dog behaviour, but which also supports education of owners and the general public about dog behaviour, and which promotes responsible dog ownership and dog welfare regardless of what breed or type of dog.

    Since the current dog control legislation was introduced in 1986, with the breed specific regulations enacted in 1998, dog bite statistics show no sign of improving in Ireland. Indeed, the number of reported dog bite incidents has increased since the introduction of the legislation, in many cases the dogs involved were not of breeds restricted under the regulations. This has been the overriding experience in other countries wherein breed specific legislation was introduced. In acknowledgement of its ineffectiveness, many of these countries are in the process of repealing, or have already significantly overhauled their dog control legislation.

    The current Irish legislation is over 30 years old, in which time dogs, as a species, have come under intensive scientific behavioural scrutiny in research laboratories across the world. Our knowledge and understanding of their behaviour has vastly improved as a result. Consequently, approaches to training and behaviour have changed to reflect our greater understanding of their learning processes and behaviours. It has become clear that a restrictive legislative policy which singles out specific breeds cannot succeed, as breed alone is not a sufficient determinant of the likelihood of a dog presenting a bite risk. On the contrary, any dog is capable of presenting a bite risk given certain circumstances, and as such, it is incumbent upon all owners to ensure that their dog’s behaviour and welfare are sufficiently catered for in order to ensure their dog is a safe and welcome part of today’s society.

    The 1998 Control of Dogs Regulations (S.I. No. 442 of 1998) requires that the breeds from the list below, their crossbreeds and strains, must at all times in public be securely muzzled, be on a lead not exceeding 2m in length, and be under the control of a person over 16 years of age who is capable of controlling the dog:

    Link: Control of Dogs Regulations 1998