Why Animal Welfare in Ireland need more funding for ISPCA inspectors

Pete Wedderburn
22nd September 2020 - 2 min read

In the past few months, both France and Germany have introduced new proposals on animal welfare. The specific laws make interesting reading.


  • Owners of dogs and cats with exaggerated features (‘hypertypes’, or “dogs with extreme conformation”, as they are known here) will be obliged to have their animals sterilised.
  • The size of dog breeding establishments has been limited to 20 breeding females
  • Microchipping will be compulsory for all dogs
  • Puppies must stay with their mother until 10 weeks
  • All breeders must be registered and have a unique registration number
  • Dog breeders will no longer be able to advertise on general websites only on specialised websites.Advertising dogs for sale with a physical conformation which could affect their health will be prohibited.
  • Maximum punishment for animal cruelty is increased to 5 years in prison and a lifelong ban
  • The notion of dangerous breeds will be abolished – every dog will be judged on its behaviour not on its breed.
  • A national Animal Attorney will be appointed for six years answerable only to the Minister for Animal Welfare


  • Breeders may care for a maximum of three bitches with puppies at any one time
  • Breeders are required to interact actively with the puppies for at least four hours every day
  • A ban on the exhibition (dog shows) of dogs with exaggerated physical features which negatively affect welfare. The ban is intended to remove the incentive for breeding dogs with unhealthy traits and decrease the demand for such dogs.
  • Chaining dogs is banned.
  • Owners must walk their dogs at least twice a day for a total of at least an hour. Dogs should not be left alone all day.
  • The new law is expected to come into force early in 2021.

These legislative changes reflect the changing attitude to dogs across Europe, and they can only be seen as positive for dogs.

What About Ireland?

Here in Ireland, we do already have good, solid, sensible legislation to protect dogs. Our biggest problem is the enforcement of those laws. The ISPCA has only nine inspectors to cover the entire country: it’s impossible for such a small team to adequately enforce the laws to protect animals.

It costs around €50,000 to keep an Inspector on the road for a year, including uniform, vehicle costs, logistical costs (computer / phone), and back room support (IT, help desk etc.).

The fastest way to improve animal welfare in Ireland would be to direct more funding to ISPCA inspectors. It would cost around €500000 per annum to double the number of inspectors. Currently, the Irish government gives nearly €17 million – over thirty times the sum needed – to the greyhound racing industry. Surely a simple redistribution of this funding would be a quick and simple fix?