Increase in dog attacks prompts Limerick council and Garda action

Photo: C Perret/Unsplash.

WITH over 1,500 dog attacks reported to Gardaí nationwide in the last two years, and a study showing that more than 3,000 people – mostly children – have had to go to hospital as a result of such attacks, a campaign has started in Limerick to remind people to keep their dogs under strict control.

A concerning escalation in dog attacks in the last two years has seen Limerick City and County Council, in collaboration with An Garda Síochána, launch a campaign to increase awareness of dog owners to take steps to ensure public safety.

By law, all dogs must be licensed and wear a collar or harness with the owner’s contact details. The owner must have control over their dog and be kept on a lead in public spaces.

In addition, restricted breeds must be muzzled and under control in public places, Gardaí have reminded owners.

The Department of Rural and Community Development recently introduced a comprehensive set of measures to strengthen dog control across the nation, including an increase in on-the-spot fines for serious offences under the Control of Dogs Act. The Department, emphasising the importance of responsible dog ownership, have tripled fines from €100 to €300 for certain offences.

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In addition to the increased fines, a stakeholder group has been formed to deliberate on potential expansions to the list of restricted breeds. Breeds such as the Cane Corso and Siberian Shepherd are now under consideration for inclusion.

Sinead Hourigan, administrative officer of the council’s veterinary services, said that the “worrying recent escalation in dog-related incidents requires heightened vigilance”.

“Working with An Garda Síochána, our message to the Limerick public is to consider the implications before welcoming a potentially dangerous dog into your home and your community.”

Garda Superintendent Andrew Lacey added “the focus is on anyone suspected of owning, using, and breeding restricted breeds of dangerous dogs, while also enforcing the law in respect of muzzling and leash requirements of restricted breeds in public”.

“While the new government appointed taskforce is welcome and will examine measures to strengthen Ireland’s laws on dog control, we feel that anecdotally and through reported incidents that there is growing prevalence of offences in Limerick and action needs to be taken.”

Superintendent Lacey says that “with more than 1,500 dog attacks reported to An Garda Síochána in the last two years, it is important that the message gets out that while individuals may feel they care for their dogs, they also have responsibilities under the law that need to be adhered to”.

“There must be a level of personal responsibility on the part of those who take on restricted breeds and bring them out in public.

“At the forefront of the campaign will be educating individuals about the dangers associated with newly introduced breeds like the XL Bully and Cane Corso, but ultimately enforcement of the law will be needed to change behaviours and ensure public safety.”

Nationally in 2023, 850 dog attacks were reported, including 430 on people, 240 on livestock, and 180 on other animals.

There was also a study called “Trends in in-hospital admissions due to dog bites in Ireland from 2012-2021” which reported a total of 3,158 emergency in-patient hospitalisations due to dog bite related injuries recorded during the 10-year study period. The report claimed that hospitalisation rates were highest among children up to 14 years old.

Anyone who wants to report a stray or dangerous dog, or rehome a dog, can call Limerick City and County Council Dog Shelter at 061 301 604.