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Report: Canine Management



This report highlights the recorded statistics under the Control of Dogs Act 1986 to 2010 with reference to County Meath from the year 2000-2013 inclusive. The purpose of this report is to examine Meath County Council’s handling of dog licences and its general law re-enforcement so that comparisons can be drawn between Meath’s results and those of its more successful counterparts (Cork county and Kerry). By analysing these statistics, it should become clear that Meath County Council needs to re-organise how it deals with licences and re-enforcement, especially due to the fact that the dog control service costs the Council money every year when it could be generating profit. The following changes are proposed to Meath County Council to consider implementing in order for Meath to gain greater control over dog ownership and management:

  1. Licence enforcement
  2. Dog fouling fine enforcement
  3. Information packs
  4. Surplus funds used to finance dog control services in Meath

Main body of report

1. Licence enforcement

In the year 2013, County Meath’s population was 184,135 and County Kerry’s was 145,502. Statistics relating to the Control of Dogs Act 1986 showed how the numbers of people purchasing dog licences in Meath rose from a baseline 3,812 in the year 2000, climbed steadily and peaked at 9,872 in the year 2006, and then fell dramatically over the next few years to a dismal 3,184 in the year 2013. In comparison, and despite having a lesser population, 17,132 individual dog licences were purchased by dog owners in Kerry in the same year. This equates to 1.73 individual licences per 100 people in Meath and 11.77 licences per 100 people in Kerry.

It can be agreed upon that these statistics do not reflect true dog ownership in Meath; the number of licences purchased have decreased over the years but dog ownership has not. There are no renewal notices issued to owners to remind them to update their licence every year so this could be a major factor in the reason for the stark decline. There is no facility for owners in Meath to purchase licences online whereas there are such provisions in other counties (such as Cork County where online licence purchases in 2013 accounted for 13.7% of all licences bought that year). The lack of licence re-enforcement in Meath merely adds to the problem as it gives owners little to no incentive to obtain a licence for their dog. To understand how these statistics represent a loss of funds for Meath County Council, it must be noted that in 2013, Meath County Council experienced a deficit of €31,961.47 in the dog control services area. Meanwhile in County Kerry, they experienced a surplus of €122,892.55. Meath County Council needs to use Kerry County Council as a positive example of how the dog control services area should be managed in order to make a profit rather than consistent annual losses.

2. Dog fouling fine enforcement

As shown in these figures from 2013, Meath is not measuring up to its financially more successful County Councils (in the dog control services area) in relation to law enforcement. The funds generated from these fines, if enforced, would be much appreciated in other areas of dog control service or development.

Local Authority

Number of on-the-spot fines issued

Number paid

Number of Prosecutions

Number of Convictions











Cork County





3. Information packs

It should be considered to make mandatory the provision of standard information packs to all owners who purchase a dog licence. Within this pack, leaflets detailing neutering procedures, vaccination protocols, parasite control and microchipping should be given to provide essential advice and information about good ownership. Information should also be provided on good dog waste management which will include why correctly disposing of dog waste in the street will eliminate the potentially hazardous health risks to children, the environment and other dogs. It is recommended that literature also be provided on the ten restricted dog breeds (and their crosses) under the Control of Dogs Regulations 1988 to all owners so that the laws governing these breeds are understood and better adhered to.

4. Surplus funds used to finance dog control services in Meath

All surplus funds generated from improved and better managed dog control services by Meath County Council, should be recycled in this area only. This money should be used to support similar dog control initiatives including, but not limited to: the dog pound, awareness campaigns and events, dog fouling bins (and their maintenance), a dog park and DNA testing:

  1. The dog pound: This service works hard to temporarily house dogs that come in as strays or have been surrendered or collected. Increased funding should be provided to the pound to ensure that it can continue to operate at a high level.
  2. Awareness campaigns and events: This is an important area because creating awareness campaigns and events educates the public on important dog-related issues whilst simultaneously raising the profile of Meath County Council. By funding projects like these, negative issues in relation to dog waste management and overall pet care will be spotlighted across the county and will encourage all communities to get involved.
  3. Dog fouling bins: The provision of dog fouling bins in all major towns in Meath should significantly increase correct dog waste disposal. Quite simply, if the funds are placed into providing or subsidising adequate bins, bags and signage along popular dog walking routes, owners will use them. It is also important to note that funds should be made available to regularly service and maintain these bins.
  4. Dog park: A designated dog park would serve to dissuade dog owners from walking their pets through residential and other areas where dogs are likely to defecate. By using surplus funds to finance an area dedicated to a dog park, the animals will become more socialised, dog defecation in areas and greens where children play will be reduced, and dog waste can be better managed and policed.
  5. DNA Testing: This method of dog waste control has been a huge success in the US and is presently being used by the Barking and Dagenham County Council in the UK. It involves obtaining DNA profiles of all dogs present in an area which are then kept on file within veterinary laboratories. If dog fouling occurs and is not cleaned up, DNA analysis can pinpoint the exact dog responsible if it matches the DNA of a dog in the database. As a result, the owner can be fined or charged. This method could potentially work very well in towns around Meath if the required efforts were put in place from the beginning.

Question of Motion and Meath County Council’s response

9.3 Submitted by Councillor Alan Tobin

“To ask Meath County Council to ringfence all monies collected for dog licences and fines etc. to be used exclusively for supporting initiatives including dog foul bins, signage including dangerous breeds and education services. This money should also be used to support the pound as well as control measures including neutering”.


“While the merits of this motion are fully accepted in trying to promote responsible dog ownership, it is pointed out that the Council each year spends in the region of €150,000 from its own resources in the running of the Dog Control Service i.e. expenditure exceeds income by this amount.There are now two Dog Wardens, but one recruited in 2014 also combines Litter Warden Duties. In 2014, a total of 4676 Dog Licenses were issued either from the Post Offices or directly from the Council Offices. The Wardens dealt with 583 stray and unwanted dogs in 2014, the vast majority of which ended up in the Council’s Dog Pound at Greenpark Dunshaughlin, which is operated under contract with Kanine Management Services Ltd. Only 22 dogs were put to sleep in 2014 with the remainder either reā€homed, reclaimed by their owners or transferred to Dog Welfare Groups. In addition to their duties associated with stray and unwanted dogs, the Wardens also engage in enforcement activities particularly with regard to licensing requirements and dog fouling. With the benefit of the second Dog Warden, it is now proposed to intensify activity in this area and it is intended to work on a blitz basis with regard to dog licences which should lead to an increase in the number of licences purchased, and a greater presence at amenity areas such as public parks, beaches etc in respect of the menace of dog fouling. The need for and efficiency of special dog fouling bins will be examined on a case by case basis. Pooper Scooper bags are already in place at a number of locations throughout the County. The Council has in recent years been involved in a number of Education and Awareness campaigns which seek to promote responsible dog ownership. This includes the installation of signage and audio devices highlighting the need to clean up after your dog, as well as support for the Green Dog Walkers programme. Funding for such measures is provided for in the Environment Department’s education and awareness budget. The Council has participated in the Limited Neutering and Microchipping Programme 2015 which is supported by Dogs Trust – new Regulations have been introduced providing for the microchipping and registration of all dogs by the 31st March 2016. Further enhancements of responsible dog ownership are provided for in the Parks and Playgrounds Bye Laws adopted in 2014, which includes responsibilities for control of dangerous dog, as defined in the Control of Dogs Regulations. Dog fouling will also be addressed in the proposed Laytown/ Bettystown Beach Management Plan”.


I am not completely satisfied with the response I received from Meath County Council with regards to the motion I put forward on the 8th of June, 2015. I have made it clear in this report that Meath County Council can and should be doing more to improve the dog control service sector in order to increase profits. As was already highlighted in the main body of this report, there are counties across Ireland, some less populous than Meath, who are actively enforcing fine, are consistently seeing high numbers of licence purchase and are subsequently seeing excellent financial return. It would be extremely advantageous for Meath County Council to attempt to match or even exceed these figures.

Now that Meath County Council have employed a second dog warden, I hope that these areas can be improved upon as suggested in this report. I have made clear recommendations that I am confident will improve dog waste management and overall dog control issues throughout the county. If efforts are made to try and implement some of these suggestions, I believe that the benefits will be felt both within communities and within the Council.


By Cllr. Alan Tobin