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ISPCA Inspectorate

ISPCA Inspectors are the front line against animal cruelty in Ireland, investigating complaints of abandoned, neglected and cruelly treated animals. 

With legal power under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, which came into force on 8th March 2014, our Inspectors investigate complaints of animal cruelty and neglect. It is their job to establish the facts behind each case and decide whether or not to initiate a prosecution.

Where possible, our Inspectors use their communication skills and animal welfare knowledge to teach animal owners to care properly for their animals. If owners are unable to care for their animals appropriately, our Inspectors will offer the opportunity to  surrender them.. Prosecution is the last resort but, under certain circumstances, our Inspectors can seize animals and instigate legal proceedings. 

ISPCA Inspectors work closely with other agencies, such as Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) www.agriculture.gov.ie, An Garda Siochana www.garda.ie,  and local authorities.

Facts and Figures

Each year the ISPCA cruelty helpline receives over 20,000 calls resulting in:

  • Over 4,000 investigations
  • Over 700 animals seized or surrendered
  • 25 prosecutions initiated, 9  from 2013 finalised 

The ISPCA has:

  • 1 Chief Inspector
  • 5 inspectors

Inspector costs

It costs around €50,000 to keep an Inspector on the road for a year, including uniform, vehicle costs, logistical costs (computer / phone), support (IT, helpdesk etc.).

Inspectors' Powers

When investigating any animal cruelty complaint, an ISPCA inspector's priority is look after the animal's welfare.

Once the animal is 'safe', the Inspectors decide if an offence has been committed. If so, ISPCA inspectors, as authorised officers, can initiate a prosecution under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013.

Under the Act, ISPCA Inspectors can enter any property (apart from private dwellings) without the owner's consent, if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence is being committed under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 

The Act also gives an ISPCA Inspector the power to:

  • Use reasonable force to enter a property (other than a private dwelling)
  • Use reasonable force to enter a vehicle to rescue an animal.
  • Issue Welfare Notices’ such as telling owners that they must get vet care or improve the way they feed and house their animals. 
  • Failure to comply with the Notice is an offence and the Inspector can seize any animal referred to in the Notice.
  • Seize an animal or other property or evidence relating to an offence.
  • Request and authorise a veterinary surgeon to humanely euthanase an animal that is suffering so severely that this is the kindest thing to do.

By law, an animal owner must give such assistance or information to an authorised officer as may reasonably be required 

The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 provides more information on the specific powers of the ISPCA’s Inspectorate in Section 38.

Penalties under the Animal Health and Welfare Act

Where possible, our Inspectors use their communication skills and animal welfare knowledge to teach animal owners to care properly for their animals, or to surrender them. Prosecution is very much the last resort.

  • A person convicted of an offence can be fined up to up to €5,000. €250,000 on indictment (i.e. in higher court)
  • A person convicted of an offence may be imprisoned for up to six months 5 years on indictment
  • A person convicted of an offence may be banned from buying, owning or caring for an animal for any period, including life.