I am fully committed to promoting good practices that respect the welfare of all animals and my Department devotes considerable resources to protecting animal welfare and in dealing with breaches of animal welfare legislation. The Animal Health and Welfare Act provides the framework within which the welfare of animals can be safeguarded and I am hopeful that the substantial and significantly increased levels of penalties for offences of animal cruelty provided for under the Act will act as a deterrent to animal welfare abuses.
Officials from my Department are directly involved in monitoring animal welfare on farms as part of their inspection duties in the areas of animal health, food safety, transportation and welfare. My Department also actively works via the regional Early Warning System to ensure that potential welfare problems in farming are identified at an early stage and wherever possible avoided.
This work is further underpinned by the Animal Welfare Helpline which my Department operates, Lo-call 0761 064408 , along with a dedicated email address, AnimalWelfare@agriculture.gov.ie, which facilitates the reporting by members of the public of concerns in regard to the welfare of animals. All calls received are treated in confidence. The animal welfare hotline exists for the reporting of specific incidents relating to animal welfare which come to the attention of members of the public, which they believe are in need of attention. All complaints received are investigated and followed up on.
Control in respect of animal welfare is a matter that is also dealt with by a wider range of organisations not just my Department. In the case of non-farmed animals, a vital role is played by An Garda Síochána, Local Authorities and authorised officers of the ISPCA and DSPCA. These latter organisations are some of the many recipients of substantial ex-gratia funding which my Department provides to underpin important work done by many organisations in the area of supporting animal welfare.
In December 2018, I announced the largest ever Department allocation of funding to animal welfare organisations of €2,751,000. A total of 108 organisations are benefitting under these arrangements. Some of these organisations are focussed on dogs but many deal with a wide range of animals.