The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 provides a modern framework for applying standards in the area of animal health and welfare. The Act was passed, after a lengthy and constructive debate in both Houses of the Oireachtas and came into operation on 6 March 2014 and replaced a number of enactments dating back over a century. The Act is kept under constant review within my Department and, indeed, was amended last Summer by the Greyhound Racing Act 2019.
The Act applies to the welfare of all animals, including those kept as pets.
My policy and the policy of the Government has always been clear and consistent. Where instances of abuse, cruelty or neglect of animals are encountered, evidence is gathered and those responsible are prosecuted through the Courts.
Investigations are carried out by authorised officers of my Department, An Garda Síochána, Customs and Excise and authorised officers of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In addition, the chief executive of each local authority may appoint authorised officers to exercise functions under the Act in the functional area of the local authority concerned.
Since the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 came into operation in March 2014, over 100 cases have been prosecuted through the Courts. Fines in excess of €60,000 have been imposed. Seven persons have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment; these sentences were suspended in four cases. The Probation Act was applied in eight instances.
Sixteen persons have been disqualified from keeping animals under section 58 of the Act.
A number of cases remain before the Courts and further files have been sent to the Chief State Solicitor with a view to be instituting proceedings; other files are currently being examined in my Department with a view to pursuing a prosecution.
I would encourage anyone who has evidence of a breach of animal welfare to report it to the Animal Welfare Hotline operated by my Department. The phone numbers of the hotline are as follows: Call Save: 076 1064408 Phone: 01 6072379
Details of suspected breaches of animal welfare can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.