A group of animal welfare advocates will gather outside the Dáil from 2pm tomorrow to highlight concerns as part of a campaign to bring about changes in legislation in relation to the issue of pet theft.
The group says representatives of several animal welfare organisations will meet with TD’s and Senators inside Dail Éireann to discuss the issue.
Bray woman Lisa O’Connor, who founded Facebook group ‘Missing Stolen Animals Ireland’, says pet theft in Ireland is a significant issue and that changes are needed to protect owners and animals alike.
O’Connor launched the group which has over 11,000 followers in 2020 “at the height of dog theft during Covid”.
She says that in recent months she has been corresponding with the Minister of State with Responsibility for Law Reform, James Browne (as delegated by Minister for Justice, Simon Harris), but that she feels ‘utterly despondent’ about the lack of action or urgency regarding dog theft.
‘I was assured by a spokesperson for the government and An Garda Síochána that they were dedicated to preventing the theft of companion animals through a range of measures, including microchipping and awareness campaigns”, she said, adding that only a small number of garda stations actually have a microchip scanner.
O’Connor claims that in less than three years over 200 dogs have been reported stolen and that ‘only a small number’ of these have been found.
“I’ve been running this group in my free time and it is horrendous to realise how big the problem is,” she said continuing, “Last year, we had a missing dog located and returned from the UK, after a pound/shelter identified a dog through its microchip.”
She pointed to comments made by Aontú leader Peadar Toibin saying that in 2020, “196 instances of animal theft were reported to the gardaí,” but that this had correlated to only 40 associated charges/summons.
O’Connor says she feels it is time for the government to “step up the law with regards animal theft.”
Several other organisations involved in animal welfare will attend the gathering including My Lovely Horse Rescue, MADRA, Star Rescue, Limerick Animal Welfare, T.N.R. West Dublin and Cat and Dog Protection Association of Ireland.