Dogs have been dubbed mans best friend since the beginning of time, but what happens when we do the unthinkable and neglect to look after our furry companions?
Sammy Parke and his colleague Jackie Murphy, dog wardens for Donegal explain why it’s important to be a responsible dog owner.
“With approximately 8,000 dog licences issued in the county last year most dog owners act responsibly and are good to their pets. Unfortunately the people who do not look after their dogs can cause a lot of problems in the community and it is our job to respond to these complaints within the framework of the Control of Dogs Act, 1986.”
Sammy and Jackie are employed by the ISPCA and are contracted by Donegal County Council. Between them they have been working for over forty years in dealing with dogs that come into the pound.
Last year 515 dogs were either reclaimed or re-homed Jackie says that they couldn’t have done this without the help of the local animal welfare organisations, Donegal Pet Rescue and Animals in Need.
“We couldn’t do our job without the good work of the animal welfare organisations they really make this job worth while as it’s the best feeling when you see a dog go to a good home.”
The dog wardens respond to complaints from members of the public throughout Donegal.
“It’s a big area for the two of us to cover. All dogs must have a dog licence and part of our duties involves checking for dog licences. We generally check for dog licences in areas where we have received complaints about dogs from members of the public. We also focus on particular areas of the county for more intensive dog licence inspections throughout the year,” said Sammy.
To date this year the dog warden service has responded to over 200 complaints from the public which is a significant rise since this time last year. Sammy says the worst part of the job is responding to cases of sheep worrying.
“This is lambing season and sheep and lambs are at their most vulnerable at this time of the year. So complaints are usually about aggressive dogs that are roaming freely and farmers are increasingly concerned as we have seen the destruction a dog can cause a to sheep if they attack. If people could see the horrific damage a dog attack can inflict on sheep and lambs then they might be more careful about letting their dogs roam unattended. Even the most docile family pet can attack when they are not under control,” said Sammy.
“We have also seen the introduction of new regulations to stop illegal puppy farming which is a big national problem but in Donegal there is cause for concern as there have been growing cases of people breeding dogs that are living in horrendous conditions. Now with this legislation they will need to meet certain criteria such as regular vet checks and inspections to make sure that they are doing it in an environment that is safe for the dogs.”
If you think you can give a dog a loving home contact Donegal Pet rescue on – 0868566626 or the dog shelter on 074912159.
Tips for responsible dog ownership
Choose a type of dog that is suitable for your circumstances
Did you know that the dog shelter at Glencar, Letterkenny is both run and staffed directly by Donegal County Council.
Make proper arrangements for the care of your dog if you are going to be away for prolonged periods.
Always keep your dog on a lead and keep it muzzled if it is one of the listed breeds –
• American Pit Bull Terrier
• English Bull Terrier
• Staffordshire Bull Terrier
• Bull Mastiff
• Doberman Pinscher
• German Shepherd
• Japanese Akita
• Japanese Tosa
Obtain an annual licence for your dog once it is more than four months old. Licences can be purchased at your local Post Office for €20.
To report a stray or violent dog contact the Dog wardens on – 0749125159
Opening hours for the Dog Shelter are – Monday – Saturday, 10.30am to 1.30pm