I propose to take Questions Nos. 76 and 89 together.
I thank the Deputy for her continued interest in this important area. My Department published new guidelines for dog breeding establishments in July. These will come into effect on 1 January 2019.
I want to see the highest standards achieved by dog breeding establishments and these guidelines will help to do this. They form part of the framework within which local authorities carry out inspections and issue improvement notices, where required.
My Department developed these guidelines through consultation with both industry experts, including the Dublin Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals, the Irish Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals, and the veterinary sector, and the public. Some of the issues raised related to matters beyond the scope of the guidelines and they are now being considered as part of a wider review of the legislation.
It is important to bear in mind that the enforcement of animal welfare standards for all animals, including dogs, is a matter for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the Animal Health and Welfare Acts. Both Departments work closely with each other to ensure a co-ordinated approach is taken in this area. In this context, I understand that last May the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine launched a public consultation on a voluntary code of practice for pet shops and on the need for further legislation in relation to the advertising and sale of animals as pets.
Much co-ordination and consultation is ongoing between my Department and the veterinary section of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as well as the local authorities, which fall within a third Department. This was something that was raised during the consultation, where people expressed the view that too many Departments were dealing with this issue, and I tend to agree. We discussed this with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine but we did not reach a conclusion in relation to changing the system.
Obviously, the local authorities are responsible for enforcement and the registration regime. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is responsible for animal welfare. The Department of Rural and Community Development is responsible for dog control and for legislation. There has been a substantial shift in the guidelines. Experts have emphasised the need to socialise pups by ensuring they experience the company of people before they are sold. There have been changes in staffing levels. As part of the move towards an increase in socialisation, pups spend more time enjoying human contact. This is important because it helps to aid their progression when they are purchased by a family with children or by an individual. We are examining the primary legislation and initiating public consultation on the list of restricted dog breeds. A number of changes have been suggested by the people involved. A number of incidents involving dogs that are not on the list of restricted dog breeds have taken place. Consideration will be given to whether there should be a change in policy so that we have a list of dangerous dogs rather than a list of dangerous breeds. This consultation will be initiated by the Department in the coming year.