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Dozens of attacks by dogs reported to local councils every year

Hundreds of dog attacks on humans and other animals have been reported to councils in the past five years.

figures provided to the Irish Independent by county councils show that dozens of attacks are happening every year and involve a range of breeds – including those not on the restricted-breed list.

When compared with the population of different counties and the number of licensed dog holders, the amount of attacks are relatively low. In some areas the number of attacks on people is on par or higher than those on other dogs or other animals.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in Dublin has recorded 273 attacks between 2016 and 2021, including 135 on people.

The most recent figures provided by the Department of Rural and Community Development show that 200,000 individual licenses were issued in 2020, compared with 212,000 in 2019.

With a population of 218,000, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown has one of the lowest rates of license holders, with 4,760 individual licenses issued in 2020, or 2.18 per 100 persons.

The attacks recorded on people in the past five years involved non-specified breeds (57), terrier (12), German shepherd (8), Jack Russell (6), collie (5) and bull mastiff (5).

Other breeds recorded as attacking people five times or fewer include Labrador (5), greyhound (4), American pitbull (4), husky (2), shih tzu (1), golden retriever (1), pug (1), poodle (1) and Chihuahua (1).

Dozens of non-specified breeds attacked other dogs, sheep, cats and deer, while American pit bulls were involved in 10 attacks, German shepherds (6) and lurchers, springers and huskies were involved in others.

In Ireland, laws introduced in 1998 imposed restrictions on 11 different breeds of dog including Rottweilers, German shepherds (Alsations), English bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, bull mastiffs, Dobermann pinschers, Rhodesian ridgebacks, Japanese Akitas, Japanese Tosas and any dogs which are a cross of those on the list.

Included in the restrictions are that the animals be muzzled while in public and held on a strong lead by a person above the age of 16.

Campaigners have sought to get dogs removed from the list. However, farmers who have lost livestock and those who have been victims of dog attacks are calling for greater controls on canines – and not just those on the restricted list.

Tipperary County Council has received 206 complaints concerning alleged attacks by dogs since 2016.

A spokesperson said some of the breeds reported included: “Jack Russell, bulldog, Alsatian, lurchers, husky, pitbull, German shepherd, greyhound, Japanese akita, Rottweiler and Staffordshire bull terrier.”

Wexford County Council has records of 53 attacks on people and 53 attacks on sheep in the last five years. “Most attacks involve restricted breeds such as Japanese Akitas, Alsatians, Rottweilers, bull terriers,” a spokesperson said.

In Co Cork, with a population of 417,000 and where 30,000 dog licenses were issued in 2020, there were 288 reports of dog attacks on other animals between 2017 and 2021. There were 388 attacks reported on people in the same time period.

Leitrim County Council has a record of 20 attacks on people, 31 on other dogs and 33 on livestock in the past five years.

“There are a variety of breed types involved in dog attacks in Leitrim including, but not exclusively collie, Labrador, golden retriever, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Dobermann, Jack Russell, terrier, Japanese akita, foxhound, lurcher and mixed breed,” a spokesperson said.

A number of local authorities had no records of dog attacks, while others did not have specific data on the breed involved.

Fingal County Council in Dublin recorded 755 reports of incidents involving dogs including dog-on-person attack, dog-on-dog attack, dog barking, dog roaming during the period 2016 to 2021.

“Fingal County Council does not record the incidents of dog attacks independently and are therefore unable to provide the requested statistics,” a spokesperson added.

Offaly County Council said it has a record of one attack in the last five years, which happened in 2018. “The attack involved two pitbull-type dogs on a King Charles spaniel-type dog. The pit bulls were subsequently put down by their owner,” a spokesperson said.

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