Under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, a pet owner has a legal duty to ensure the welfare of his animal(s). A pet’s welfare needs include:

  • A proper diet
  • Access to clean fresh drinking water
  • Somewhere suitable to live
  • Any need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • Allowing animals to express normal behaviour
  • Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease

The penalty for failing to care for a pet could be a fine of up to €250,000 or even a prison sentence up to 5 years.

Restricted Breed Dogs:
There are specific restrictions placed on dogs of the breeds listed under the Control of Dogs Regulations 1998. When in a public place such dogs must be muzzled and kept on a strong lead less than two metres in length  held by a person over 16 years of age who is strong enough to handle the animal. They must also wear a collar and ID tag bearing the details of the owner at all times.

The dogs covered by these regulations are:
American Pit Bull Terrier
Bull Mastiff
Doberman Pinscher
English Bull Terrier
German Shepherd (Alsation)
Japanese Akita
Japanese Tosa
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The restrictions also extend to every dog of the type commonly known as a Ban Dog (or Bandog), and to every other strain or cross of every breed or type of dog described above.

Tail Docking / dew claw removal:
It is illegal for a lay-person to perform either of these procedures on any dog. It is lawful for a veterinary surgeon to perform the procedures on puppies of specified breeds (Spaniels, Pointers and Terriers) when they are less than 8 days old, if the veterinary professional has reasonable cause to believe that the pups will be used in lawful hunting or lawful pest control. Some evidence should be provided. Dogs docked as working dogs must be permanently identified with a microchip and must have a certificate from the veterinary surgeon who docked the puppy.
Despite the legal situation outlined above, the Veterinary Council of Ireland has deemed tail docking to be unethical and so vets are not permitted to dock a dog’s tail unless it is for medical or therapeutic reasons.

Compulsory Microchipping:

Microchipping is now a legal requirement for all dogs and puppies once they are 12 weeks old. It is also a legal requirement to be in possession of a microchipping certificate and it is important your contact details are kept up-to-date. Failure to do so will be an offence under the Animal Health & Welfare Act 2013. The seller should provide you with details of the microchip. It is the buyers responsibility to inform the database operator of the change in owner’s details.

From 1st September 2015 all puppies over twelve weeks old must be microchipped before they are sold or supplied.

From March 2016 all dogs must be microchipped. This will allow local authorities to trace stray, abandoned or stolen dogs and reunite them with their owners. The legislation is also anticipated to help identify the owners of troublesome dogs. Failure to have your dog microchipped will be subject on summary conviction to a Class A fine of up to €5000.
While microchipping is recommended for all cat owners as well as dogs, there are no current plans to make microchipping compulsory for cats.

Under the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010, any premises where there are six or more female dogs which are more than six months old and capable of breeding must be licensed with their local authority. Breeders must not breed from a female dog less than a year old, more than six times overall in their lifetime or more than three times in any three year period.
When buying from a commercial breeder it is wise to ask to see their licence, and look out for very young or exhausted dams (mothers). There is no equivalent legislation for other household pets.

Exotic Animals
Species to which CITES restrictions apply should be accompanied by appropriate paperwork. Any species listed on Appendix I of CITES or ANNEX A of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations must be accompanied by the relevant certificate, issued by the CITES Management Authority.