Protecting and caring for pets in Ireland. How are animals cared for in the country?

Pets cannot fully look after themselves. People take responsibility for the little species of society, and they pay them back in love and devotion. People should be more considerate of these gentle members of society. Not all countries have animal welfare laws and specialised services to control the population, quality of life and health of animals. Without enforcement, pets can cause harm to others, transfer disease and often are subjected to humiliation and abuse (in some countries).

Ireland has certainly succeeded in protecting the rights of animals and the quality of their lives. By 2021 there were around 326,000 cats and 457,000 dogs. The health of the animals is closely monitored by the veterinary inspection service. Practically every animal here is chipped, and it is extremely rare to meet a stray dog or cat on the street. The quality of life of the animals is monitored not only by volunteers and services, but also by the owners themselves.

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How are animals cared for in Ireland?

If you decide to get a pet, such as a cat or a dog, be prepared to arrange for a health check-up for each animal and to give your new family member the necessary vaccinations. In addition, if you wish to purchase a dog, you will need to consider applying for a dog licence. Cats do not require such a document, but there will also be enough hassle with these animals. 

Documents, vaccinations and chipping

To cross the border into Ireland, if you want to bring your pet here, you must get it vaccinated against rabies. It is essential that the cat or dog is microchipped before you do this. Once it has developed immunity, you can travel to the new country. The animal must be 12 weeks of age or older at the time of vaccination. A veterinary certificate is also required to bring your pet into the country.

A pet that you acquire in the country must also be microchipped, vaccinated and have a veterinary passport.

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From November 2022, any pet must comply with the requirements for bringing pets into the country from outside the EU/EEA. If the pet does not meet the import regulations, it will be quarantined. Quarantine is at the pet owner’s expense. 

Rules for getting a pet

Before you go to an animal shelter, decide whether you can welcome a new family member into your home. Make sure you will have enough time to provide the pet with everything it needs. When you’re choosing your new friend, make sure the pet is ready to be separated from its mother – it’s more than 8 weeks old. Prepare a place for your dog or cat to sleep, eat and purchase appropriate food and vitamins.

No matter what type of pet you get, every pet owner in Ireland has a legal obligation to make sure all the necessary arrangements are made for their pet. Fresh water, high quality food, vitamins, medical check-ups and vaccinations are the basics for keeping pets.

All pets should be registered at a veterinary clinic to facilitate medical care. It is against the law to throw animals out into the street and cause them any kind of physical suffering. Even street animals (of which there are not many in Ireland) are protected from abuse.

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Animal welfare at the statutory level. Obligations of owners

Every animal that does not live in the wild but under human control is considered a protected animal. All pets and companion animals here are protected by law. The Animal Health and Welfare Act was issued in 2013 and obliges all owners to protect the welfare of their animals.

There is also a ban on cruelty to animals in Ireland. Any act or omission to harm a pet in the country is an offence. When you leave your pet in the care of someone else, you must make sure it will be safe. If a pet is harmed, this is also punishable by law.

There are more than 20 animal shelters nationwide. Volunteers and civil society organisations highly recommend people choose these places for their new pets.

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Feeding and keeping pets

Any pet in Ireland must be cared for to an appropriate standard. There is a specific list of conditions that must be followed:

  • An adequate supply of clean and fresh drinking water,
  • A quality diet that is appropriate for the breed, age and weight
  • Provide any other nutrition that the dog needs.

What a pet owner should never do to his or her pet

  • Give the pet food or water of poor quality,
  • Give food or liquids that may cause harm to your pet,
  • Give any potentially harmful substances to the pet.

Licence for animals

No licence is required to keep domestic cats in Ireland. However, if you want to have a dog, you must obtain a special licence. When a puppy is 4 months old and ready to be separated from its mother, the new owner must obtain a licence. 

There are three types of such document:

  • Individual – valid for 1 year and costs €20,
  • Lifelong – valid for the lifetime of the animal and costs 140 euros for the owner,
  • General – valid for an indefinite number of dogs in the same area and valid for one year. It costs 400 euros.

You may apply for a licence on this website or at your local post office. A general licence must be obtained from the local administration.

However, there are some dogs that do not require a licence:

  • Guide dogs for blind people,
  • Dogs brought into the country for less than 30 days,
  • Animals owned by the local authority, ISPCA or Gardaí.

Should pets be microchipped?

All dogs must be microchipped at the veterinary clinic before they are 12 weeks old. The animal is also entered into a special database. A pet must be microchipped if he or she is weaned. Cats are also microchipped in Ireland.

From the beginning of 2020 a rule was adopted whereby when a dog is sold you must include its microchip code on the ad.

Under Irish law, a dog must wear a collar with its owner’s address and name on it at all times. If this condition is not respected, the warden can issue a fine.

What should be done with unwanted animals?

If you find yourself with a dog that you can no longer keep, you should contact the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. There are also some community-based charities and pet shelters that take in pets. 

However, before you get a pet, it is best to think several times. It is not worth giving it up to torment by giving it into someone else’s hands.

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Features of selling animals

There are certain rules about selling animals in Ireland. From February 2020, if you sell more than five animals in a calendar year, you must comply with the following conditions:

  • Register with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine Resources,
  • Keep a record of the animals for sale,
  • Add necessary information about the animal you want to sell (such as microchip details),
  • Do not sell animals under a certain age (8 weeks for dogs).

From all of this information we can say that the quality of life of pets is very much monitored. There are many animal-friendly cafés and shops in Ireland. It is common to see people with pets here. Certain obligations placed on owners by the government make the process of acquiring a pet really thoughtful and deliberate.

We need to love animals, because to them we are their true and only friends. 

Useful links for pet-lovers

  • DSPCA –  a lot of useful information about vaccinations, chipping and shelters.
  • GCCFI (Governing Council of the Cat Fancy of Ireland) – taking care of the welfare of cats, issuing certificates to pedigree animals with pedigree. 
  • CDPA – cat rescue, capture, neutering and return.
  • Animal Law Ireland – animal welfare.
Kateryna Mazovetska
Kateryna Mazovetska

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