A new group has been set up on Facebook to coordinate opposition to some of the proposed amendments to the dog law, which they say punishes animal lovers and is skewed in favour of hunters.
The newly established “protest group on the proposed new animal law” said it was set up by people interested in animal rights. They said they believed they needed to act on various levels to intervene in support of animal rights, the rights of owners and animal activists who work, without resources and support, to rescue and care for abandoned and abused animals.
The group said that rather than dealing with the gaps and huge problem with animal welfare, the government is trying to satisfy hunters on the one hand and members of the population who fear animals.
It said the bill proposes measures which intervene disproportionately with the right to enjoy private life and punishes animal lovers while at the same time propose unacceptable relaxations for hunters who have been proven to be a big part of the problem.
One of the biggest problems is with the proposed introduction of a maximum two dogs per house and one per apartment. In contrast, hunters will be allowed to have four hunting dogs.
Animal activists say hunting dogs are often very badly treated, kept in cages in foul conditions. And with the start of every hunting season, animal shelters are deluged with abandoned, starving dogs.
The draft bill is currently open to public consultation. In the wake of criticism on social media on some of the proposals, the Agriculture Ministry assured that the bill was still a draft and promised to take all views and suggestions into consideration.
The draft bill
The draft law provides for steeper out of court fines of up to €2000 and increase in prison to up to 12 months for a first offence, rising to up to two years in the event of a second conviction. If owners do not comply, authorities will be allowed to confiscate the dogs.
There will be a limit of a maximum of two dogs per house and one per apartment, but provision is made for owners who have more dogs when the law comes into force to be allowed keep them.
All dogs over two months will have to wear a collar with the number of their dog licence and the contact details of the owner. Failure to obtain a licence will be punishable with a fine of €100. There is provision also for a €100 fine for failing to microchip your dog.
Failure to take the necessary steps to ensure your dog does not create a nuisance from barking carries a €200 fine. Keeping a dog in conditions which pose a danger to public health will be punishable with a fine of €200 as will failure to provide the appropriate housing conditions for your dog.
Failure to take the necessary measures to prevent a dog from escaping the house or abandoning a dog also carries a €200 fine. There are fines too for keeping or breeding dogs which are on the list of dangerous, prohibited dogs.
Training or using dogs in fights carry an out of court fine of €1000.
Should a dog injure a person or another animal, it is liable to being confiscated and euthanised.
The draft bill also prohibits keeping dogs on balconies. They can be kept in the garden of a house provided the fencing is high enough to prevent them leaving.