Tuesday, 15 November 2022
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I too offer my condolences to Vicky Phelan's family. The State is mourning her loss but mná na hÉireann are really feeling her loss today.
I thank Senator Paul Daly for calling for a debate on the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine report on dog welfare issues. I echo the call. A debate on those issues is very urgent. I will raise the annual crisis we face with regard to dog shelters at Christmas. We tell people not to give dogs as Christmas presents and to adopt rather than to shop but it seems that Christmas is very much coming early this year, because we are only in November and the dog shelters are already in crisis.In the past two weeks, 11 dog pounds have shut down or announced that they are full. On Monday, five shelters shut down in a single day. I am afraid to say that in classic fashion, the Government did not heed the warning signs. Three weeks ago, I raised this issue with the Minister for Rural and Community Development, who is responsible for pounds. She was not available and instead of sending a junior Minister from her Department, she sent the Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Deputy Browne. I mean no disrespect to him but he does not know the subject so he duly read out the statement of which he had a tenuous grasp. The opening line of that statement said that the Department of Rural and Community Affairs has policy responsibility for dog control while the local authorities are responsible for all operational activities. The Department passed the buck to the local authorities but when I requested this week that the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage come in to address the question of whether the local authorities have the resources for the dog pounds, I was told that it is not a matter for that Department but rather that it is a matter for the Department of Rural and Community Affairs. They are passing the buck between them and in the mean time, dogs are dying, pounds are crumbling and the shelters are saying they cannot take the dogs from the pounds so we are seeing dogs being abandoned and thrown into rivers. In one case a dog was left in a cage at a canal in Dublin. We need a debate on the capacity of pounds to deal with the number of dogs being surrendered or abandoned and puppy farming. This is why the debate on the report is so essential.