Seanad debates

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


1:00 pm

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Cathaoirleach. I have two matters to raise. The first is a question that has been drawn to my attention by a couple. The man is infertile as a result of Klinefelter syndrome and they got a friend of theirs to donate sperm. The woman got pregnant and a child was born. They approached the Adoption Authority of Ireland and it advised that the father apply for a step-parent adoption, which they did. They applied for and obtained guardianship of the daughter as well. They looked into the Children and Family Relationships Act, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act and the Adoption Act. They understand that parentage is being granted to social parents of donor-conceived children who are conceived in a hospital or clinic setting but this took place outside the hospital setting in the home. Is there any chance that the relevant legislation could be amended to include, and not to exclude, families such as this?

The second matter is the question of dog theft. There has been an enormous spate of dog thefts recently, particularly since Covid-19. Under the current law, the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001, pets are considered property and they are treated in the same way, for example, as the theft of a mobile phone. Pets are not property, however, they are loved companions. They are children for people who cannot have children of their own. They are therapy dogs and service dogs. They are dogs for people who are blind. They are companions for those who have nobody else to turn to. Hundreds of dogs are being stolen every day. There are these facts: resale - some buyers will not check a pet's background before buying a dog, which makes things very difficult; ransom - a thief can take advantage of a vulnerable owner who will offer a reward for the safe return of the beloved dog; breeding - stolen dogs are used on puppy farms; and fighting, which is appalling - some dogs are used as bait in dog fights.

I had a case where a Springer Spaniel was attacked and her puppies stolen. They dumped her after using a knife to cut her microchip out of her neck, leaving her to bleed to death. They put Super Glue her mouth, and a young man was attacked and hospitalised for trying to intervene. A woman walking her dogs in the woods in Tipperary was approached by two men who instructed their trained fighting dogs to attack her in order to allow them to steal her dogs. Dog thieves are flying drones over housing estates to locate dogs and to mark houses where there are dogs available for theft. I ask that this problem be examined. I understand that legislation has been proposed in the Lower House and I ask that this House support that in order to protect family pets.


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