Less than 20% of dog owners paid fines

Thousands of dog owners have ignored on-the-spot fines issued last year.

Figures published by the Department of the Environment show fewer than one in five owners paid the penalty. Just 858 owners out of 4,849 issued with an on-the-spot fine in 2015 were recorded as paying. The fine for not having a dog licence is €100, while it is €150 for not cleaning up after a dog fouls in a public place.

Dog wardens in the area covered by Cork County Council issued almost half of all fines for breaches of dog control legislation last year.

Carlow and Clare were the only counties where 100% of owners paid the fine.

The lowest compliance rate was Roscommon, Tipperary, and Galway City, where nobody paid the fine. Compliance rates of less than 10% were also found in Cork County, Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly, and South Dublin.

No fines were issued to dog owners in Longford and Sligo last year.

Some breaches of the Control of Dogs Acts 1986 and 1992 carry a fine of up to €2,500 and/or a prison term of up to three months.

Overall, a total of 411 prosecutions were taken against dog owners, resulting in 107 convictions.

Only seven local authorities initiated any prosecution against owners who failed to pay a fine, with Cork County, Kerry, Louth, and South Dublin the only areas to take a large number of court actions for non-payment of fines.

A total of 13,051 stray dogs were recorded as being seized, surrendered, or impounded last year, a decrease of around 1,500 on 2014.

Animal shelters found homes for 3,173 dogs, while 2,038 animals were reclaimed. A total of 1,824 dogs were put down, compared to almost 2,900 the previous year. Some 366 stray greyhounds were also recorded last year, with large numbers being found, particularly in Limerick and Kerry.

Only three local authorities made a profit from operating dog warden services last year. The overall cost of such services across 31 council areas was just over €6.1m, up 11% on 2014 figures.

However, revenue from dog warden services rose by only 1.5% to just over €3.8m, resulting in a net national loss of almost €2.3m in 2015.

Income from such services, which is derived from dog licence revenue and fines, exceeded the cost of running the service for only three councils: Cavan, Kerry, and Monaghan. The biggest deficit was incurred in Dublin city, where the service ran up a loss of around €222,000 last year.

A total of 197,549 dog licences were issued last year, up 2.5% annually.

The council area with the highest number of issued licences was Cork county, at 32,015, followed by Kerry with 16,839.

Combined, the four local authorities in Dublin issued a total of 30,214 licences.

Kerry had the highest dog ownership on a per capita basis, with 11.56 licences per 100 population followed by Monaghan (9.27) and Cavan (9.03). The lowest rate of dog ownership is in Dublin city, with just 1.69 licences per 100 population. Other areas with relatively low dog ownership levels are Wicklow, Fingal, Galway City, and Cork City.

All dog owners are required by law to have a licence for their pet. The cost of an annual dog licence is €20, or a lifetime licence can be bought for €140.

There are a total of 47 full-time dog wardens and 22 part-time wardens operating 50 collection vans around the country.


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