Who is responsible for animal welfare issues in Ireland? And where is Ireland’s most pet friendly town? Pete the Vet on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show

As usual, to listen to the podcast, click on the link at the foot of this page.

Animal welfare  in Ireland

This week, a pony near Kilkenny was found drowning, and the members of the public dealing with the situation had difficulty getting help as quickly as possible. Eventually a vet did come out, and sadly, they were too late: the pony had drowned.

As the ISPCA inspector later was reported to say, “We would like to be able to say ‘contact us 24/7 and we’ll be there’ but that is unfortunately not possible. We are a voluntary organisation.”

So what should people do if they find an animal in distress, and what they can expect from animal rescue services in this country?

The ISPCA is the only national organisation to help: otherwise, it’s just a case of contacting local animal rescue groups or vets to see who is available
ISPCA Inspectors carried out over 3,000 investigations last year. They have a total of eight authorised Inspectors (one Chief and seven Inspectors) covering 17 counties and working with 19 affiliated member societies nationwide. ISPCA Inspectors are at the forefront of animal welfare, they respond to allegations of cruelty, neglect and abuse and also aid sick and injured animals. The ISPCA also operates two rescue and rehabilitation centres which were developed in order to support the ISPCA Inspectorate and member societies with the rescue, rehabilitation and responsible re-homing of cruelly treated and neglected animals.
The RSPCA in UK does offer a more comprehensive service in emergencies but that is simply because the charity is better resourced because it is so well supported financially by the British public. So the message for the Irish public is that if you are concerned about animal welfare, keep supporting the efforts of the ISPCA to stamp out animal cruelty. For more information about their work, to make a donation or to report cruelty in confidence, please visit www.ispca.ie or call the helpline 1890 515515 Monday to Friday 9.00am – 5.00pm.

In the Dublin area, the DSPCA has its own inspectors who can help: they can be contacted on (01) 499 4700 – choosing option 1. Again, this service is available Monday to Friday 9.00 am – 5.00 pm.

In other areas, many local animal rescue groups have volunteers who may be able to help.

Out of normal working hours the Gardai have a responsibility to attend emergencies relating to animals, but of course they are under pressure on many fronts, and they may not have the expertise to deal with many of the specialised issues that arise with animals in distress. Nonetheless, if you find an animal in trouble and you can get no other help, you should call the Gardai, and at the very least, they may be able to summon the local vet to help.

Exporting a dog to Sweden

Many Irish rescue dogs are sent to be rehomed in Sweden: in the podcast, we discuss the reasons for this.
As Sweden is an EU country, an EU Pet Passport is needed, which takes three steps

  1. Dog must be microchipped
  2. Rabies vaccine must be given
  3. Three weeks must pass for vaccine to become effective

An Owner’s Declaration will be required if you or your representative are not arriving on the same flight as your pet but are flying 5 days before or after your pet’s arrival.
Pets must enter Sweden by road at customs stations or by air at Border Inspection Posts.

Pet friendly businesses, villages and towns

Pets are good for human communities, yet many towns and businesses seem to try to keep them out, rather than welcoming them in. Despite people’s fears and anxieties, there’s no good reason for this, on hygiene, or health and safety grounds. While there are pockets of pet friendly places, the overall theme is still “pet unfriendly” across the country, with pets  banned from many pubs, cafes and restaurants.
The source of this, in many cases, seems to be the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, who have been quoted as saying this:

“This isn’t new legislation. It’s the Food Hygiene Regulations – S.I. No 205 of 1950, Article 25, paragraph 22. Under this legislation pet dogs and cats are generally not permitted in any food premises. However, there is an exception for guide, assistance or companion dogs. You can read an FAQ on the FSAI website about this.”

It is important to note that there is no logical or scientific reason why dogs should be banned from areas where food is eaten, and in many countries (France, Italy, Germany etc) there is no problem with dogs being in pubs, restaurants and other premises open to the public.

It is interesting that the Irish regulations also insist that the Food Business Operator (FBO) should identify hazards and manage those risks, so arguably, it should surely be possible to have a dog-friendly restaurant, as long as the owner has specified and assessed any possible risks to the public.

There are already many examples of places that welcome pets in Ireland:

There’s an interesting case study going on just now in the UK, in a town called Melton Mowbray. With the help of local employer Mars Petcare, the town is trying to win the Kennel Club’s “Be Dog Friendly” award for 2017’s for the most pet friendly town. The community is planning a range of pet-friendly initiatives that will focus on encouraging pet friendly tourism, improving the mental and physical health of the town through pets, showing how pets can lift community spirit and helping pet owners to care for their animals in the best way.

Activities include:

  • The Melton PAW-Some Scheme – Helping owners find out which local businesses are pet-friendly – or “PAW-Some”. Successful businesses will receive an official PAW-print sticker and be added to a new guide that will help pet owners find pet-friendly businesses in the town.
  • Pets as Therapy – Bringing the benefits of pets to local residential care and nursing homes by taking Pets as Therapy volunteers and their pets to the residents.
  • Pet Ambassador Programme – Inspiring the next generation of responsible pet owners, the programme will reach every primary school in Melton Mowbray. Children will explore four learning zones including ‘Pets as Superheroes’ and ‘Poo Corner’, and learn all about how to keep their pets happy and healthy.
  • Melton Country Park – Making Melton Country Park even more pet friendly with the creation of new exciting activity trails for both pets and owners to enjoy and increase their physical activity.
  • The Melton Mowbray Pet School – Giving local pet owners expert advice on how to keep their pets happy and healthy through evening seminars.

I’d love to put it up to an Irish town or village to put together a similar package of initiatives to create Ireland’s most pet friendly town.

Questions from listeners

  • Is it the case that only the vet working in the specific county can report case of animal cruelty? We were driving through and concerned about horse welfare(emaciated horses with little feed grass etc in field -cold weather) was told vet from area would have to report- Is this the case? Would seem to make reporting of animal neglect very difficult and meanwhile animals are suffering. Fionn
  • We have a bichon/toy poodle 5 years now, just over a year ago he started to go toilet in the house, he goes every single day now when we get up in the morning there could be up to 6 wees & also sometimes poo!! Even though he’s been out the night before for his walk. He sometimes comes in from the garden & goes to the toilet in the house!!! I’d like to know would having him neutered help? I’m at my wit’s end now, he’s a lovely family dog, I couldn’t leave him outside he’s a house pet. He know what he’s doing is wrong…. What will I do please? Sharon
  • My little 4 years old boy is scared of dogs, he hasn’t had a negative incidents with dogs he just gets frighten and freaks out when we are out walking and sees a dog. Is there anything I can do to build his confidence around dogs.  Lucy
  • Why are guide dogs so sad looking. Has there ever been research into their emotional welfare. No sniffing, emotion allowed (distraction) for example. I suspect it’s cruel to use a dog it this way.
  • I had two girl dumbo rats for a year but one has died and her sister is pining away. Can I get another girl to keep her company or would the other one attack her.  Derek
  • There’s a fox under log cabin with cubs, upsetting our cat. How do you get them out. Paul


To listen to this week’s podcast and to hear the answers to these questions, click on the play button below.


Listen to the podcast:

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1 Comment

  • Pip says:

    Hello from Sweden!

    Sorry, but I almost fell from the sofa when you talked about Irish dogs going to Sweden.
    Perhaps you could be better prepared next time, and check the facts?

    It´s not you doing us a favour, by letting us have your dogs.
    It´s we doing your dogs a favour, by taking care of them.

    We sure have enough dogs here, both puppies and adults.
    We actually even have homeless and unwanted dogs, even though the numbers are nothing like the Irish ones.
    And you know what – most dogs here aren´t even fixed. We keep the population down simply by keeping an eye on our dogs: a female in heat and a male are kept apart.

    And we actually adopt adult dogs, mainly. Almost all of them fixed (sometimes there is a health problem etc making it impossible), to make sure not to bring more unwanted dogs to this world, and in particular by parents with an unknown background healthwise.

    The reason we adopt is that we see your dogs like the doggie version of refugees: their lifes are at risk in your country, they need to be saved.

    Or simply put: the reason is compassion.

    Here is a link to an article:


    It mentiones the Swedish group Hundar Utan Hem, on their web site you can see the dogs both being adopted already,


    and the ones currently looking for a home,

    click the blue boxes saying “Valpar”, “Seniorer” etc, for different sizes, ages and breed types.

    Now you know :-)

    And thanks for the podcast BTW!

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