Mayo County Council has launched a major campaign to sniff out unlicensed dogs in the county.
The dog warden is on patrol in towns, villages, and townlands in every corner of Mayo in the coming weeks and will be issuing hefty on-the-spot fines to dog owners who do not have a licence for their canines.
Jacqueline Brady, staff officer with the veterinary department in Mayo County Council, said the campaign was launched in a bid to encourage more people to meet their legal obligations when it comes to dog ownership.
Mayo County Council is devoting considerable resources to the campaign, which will run until September.
“If you have a dog, you have to have a licence,” advised Ms Brady. “It is very hard to estimate how many dogs there are in the county, and how many are unlicensed, so we want to raise awareness on this issue by really getting the message out there that if you don’t have a licence, the dog warden is going out into the different areas in the county and you will be fined.”
A dog licence will set an owner back €20 annually. However, if the warden comes across an unlicensed dog, the owner will have to pay out considerably more than that.
An on-the-spot fine costs €100 and dog owners could possibly face court action if the fine is not paid promptly.
Last week, in Castlebar District Court, Judge Mary Devins fined a Castlebar man €100 and ordered him to pay legal costs of an additional €150, because he did not have a licence for his husky dog which was found roaming in a local housing estate.
Ms Brady said licensing dogs could also provide some extra security for owners if a dog strayed or was stolen.
“There is now an option to include a microchip number on a dog licence so if we come across a dog, it can be reconciled with its owner very quickly.”
All dogs aged more than four months must be licensed and licences are available from Mayo County Council, online at mayococo.ie, or from local post offices, added Ms Brady.