Animal Theft A Serious Issue That Needs To Be Dealt With
Note to Journalist.
Please see the Parliamentary Question below.
A Parliamentary Question tabled by Aontú Leader Peadar Tóibín has raised serious concerns over the high rates of animal theft across the country, and the inadequacy of existing legislation to deal with these crimes.
Deputy Tóibín stated;
“In the past 5 years, there have been over 1,000 instances of animal theft across the country with Canine, Bovine/Ovine and Equine seeing the highest rates of theft per species. These of course only account for reported incidents of animal theft, with unreported thefts or mistaken incidents of lost animals being exempted by these figures. This means that the rate of animal theft could be higher, but this is not reflected in the official statistics.”
“In 2020, despite the country rarely being out of lockdown or under heavy restrictions, 196 instances of animal theft were reported to the Gardaí. Furthermore, instances of animal theft correspond to worryingly low rates of associated charges or summons. In 2020, 196 incidents of animal theft correlated to only 40 associated charges/summons. That means for every five incidents of animal theft, only one shall correlate to an associated charge/summons. In some years it is marginally better, but not what it should be.”
“These statistics reaffirm the need for stronger legislation pertaining to and surrounding theft of animals, particularly dog theft. Indeed, there weak legislation and enforcement in place to deal with puppy farms or the scourge of animal cruelty. We need tougher sentencing for animal theft. Also, the fact it comes under the remit of the Minister for Agriculture as opposed to the Minister for Justice further exhibits the lack of regard afforded to the area. Aontú has already brought a bill to the Dáil on delivering tougher sentences for dog thieves, and will be publishing legislation on puppy farms in the weeks to come also.”
For Written Answer on : 13/01/2021
Question Number(s): 691 Question Reference(s): 45061/20
Asked by: Peadar Tóibín T.D.
To ask the Minister for Justice the number of arrests and prosecutions that have been made in each of the past five years in relation to unregulated puppy farms and animal cruelty for each breed.
I understand that all complaints of cruelty to animals made to An Garda Síochána are subject to investigation. The Deputy will appreciate that in any case, it is a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide if a prosecution should take place, and for what offence.
Matters relating to animal welfare are not under my remit as Minister for Justice. I understand that the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, which is within the remit of my colleague the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, provides a modern and robust framework for dealing with issues relating to animal welfare.
I understand that An Garda Síochána liaises and works closely with both local authorities and the local offices of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
I am informed by An Garda Síochána that tables 1 and 2 contain the number of incidents reported to An Garda Síochána between the years 2016 and 2020 which have been recorded on PULSE as ‘Offences Against Animals’. ‘Offences Against Animals’ includes cases of animal cruelty among other offences such as hunting without a licence, failure to take care of an animal, failure to comply with authorised officers (for example, during an inspection) and non-compliance with animal identification procedures. There are no specific offence codes on PULSE for offences relating to puppy farms or animal cruelty specifically, such offences are captured under the broader code of 'Offences Against Animals'.
Table 1: Reported ‘Offences Against Animals’ incidents for the years 2016 – 2020 by subject animal family
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Canine 75 67 56 68 75
Bovine/Ovine 56 60 72 46 35
Equine 39 48 77 31 49
Feline 7 8 13 8 15
Others 31 43 36 21 22
Total 208 226 254 174 196
Table 2: Reported ‘Offences Against Animals’ incidents for the years 2016 – 2020 by subject animal family with one or more associated charge or summons
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Canine 18 21 13 25 21
Others 34 30 69 36 19
Total 52 51 82 61 40
I am advised by the Garda authorities that data was downloaded from PULSE on 6th January 2021. Crime counting rules were not applied to data.