Thursday, 12 May 2022
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Lynn Boylan (Sinn Fein)
I propose an amendment to the Order of Business: "That No. 17 be taken before No. 1." No. 17 is the Animal Health and Welfare (Dogs) Bill 2022. This is legislation on which I have worked closely with the Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, DSPCA. Many people are familiar with the images of puppies seized at ports or on the border or from illegal puppy farms. All too often people offer to take the poor mites in, but most people are not aware that animals seized under the Animal Health and Welfare Act cannot be rehomed either until the dog is surrendered voluntarily by the owner or until the legal proceedings conclude. That means that puppies, after receiving whatever essential veterinary care they need, must remain in either foster homes or, worse, in the animal shelter. This means that they could be nearly two years old before they have a permanent loving home to go to. This also places a significant financial burden on the rescue organisations, which is often not recovered in court decisions and is being used by the illegal dog smugglers to drain the resources of those organisations. My Bill seeks to bring the Animal Health and Welfare Act in line with the Control of Dogs Act in order that dogs seized under the Control of Dogs Act, if they are found roaming or are unlicensed, can be rehomed after five days if they are not claimed. My Bill would allow for those dogs seized under the Animal Health and Welfare Act to be rehomed after five days, subject to a veterinarian deeming it to be in the best interest of the animal's welfare.
Another element of the Bill would align the microchipping law and the dog licensing laws. Currently, a dog licence can be obtained online very easily. In some cases, criminals use dog licences to retrospectively claim ownership of dogs that have been seized. My Bill will make it mandatory for the licence to include the microchip of the dog in addition to the current requirement of a description. In addition, it would mean that the local authorities would continue to get the revenue from dog licensing, which they absolutely need. It would also help to raise awareness among dog owners that they are required by law not only to have their animals microchipped but also to have the details on the microchip kept up to date. Many people, including very responsible dog owners, are unaware that their dogs might still be registered to the breeder or to a previous owner. Given the devastation we know families go through when their dogs are stolen or go missing, up-to-date microchip information is the single most important tool in reuniting a beloved family pet with its family.
I hope the House will accept my amendment to the Order of Business and that we will soon have an opportunity to bring this Bill to Second Stage. This is notwithstanding the wonderful work that organisations such as the DSPCA and Dogs Trust do. I thank the DSPCA for all its support on the Bill. No dog should spend a day longer than is absolutely necessary in a shelter.