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ISPCA Inspectorate Team

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 (AHWA 2013), which came into force in 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 there is evidence to suggest that an offence of cruelty has been or is being committed.

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 prepare case files that may result in 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.

To report cruelty to an animal, please complete our confidential online complaint form here, call 1890 515 515 (Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm) or email helpline@ispca.ie

Facts and Figures

In 2018, the ISPCA handled:

  • 17,338 calls for help received by the National Animal Cruelty Helpline in 2018
  • 3,494 investigations carried out by ISPCA Inspectors
  • 1,102 animals seized or surrendered and taken into ISPCA care
  • 18 cases successfully resolved in court 

Since the introduction of the AHWA 2013, the ISPCA has handled:

  • 86,549 calls have been received by the National Animal Cruelty Helpline since 2014
  • 17,832 investigations carried out by ISPCA Inspectors
  • 5,147 animals seized or surrendered and taken to the ISPCA care
  • 64 cases successfully resolved in court 

The prosecutions highlighted in our latest report illustrate the impact that ISPCA Inspectors are having but so much more could be done if the ISPCA had sufficient resources. The ISPCA is therefore appealing to the Irish Government and the public for more funding to help fight animal cruelty enabling the ISPCA to reach the counties not currently covered. 

With the majority of ISPCA funding received from members of the public and through gifts in wills, the ISPCA relies heavily on public support to continue our work preventing animal cruelty and alleviating animal suffering. If you can support our work by making a kind donation, please visit https://www.ispca.ie/donate/once_off

The ISPCA has:

  • 1 Chief Inspector
  • 2 Senior Inspectors
  • 6 Inspectors

Our Inspectors cover 17 counties in Ireland. You can also see which local ISPCA affiliated member society is near you.

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', Inspectors determine whether there is evidence to suggest that an offence has been committed. If so, as authorised officers under the AHWA 2013, ISPCA inspectors can compile and submit a case file in relation to the matter.

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 AHWA 2013.

Where appropriate, the Act also gives ISPCA Inspectors 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 Animal Health and Welfare Notices’ requiring owners to get veterinary care or to improve the way in which they feed and house their animals. 
  • Failure to comply with an Animal Health and Welfare Notice is an offence and such failure may result in the seizure of 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 euthanise 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 AHWA 2013 provides more information on the specific powers of the ISPCA’s Inspectorate in Section 38.

Penalties under the AHWA 2013

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

Inspectorate Report 2018

On Friday 24th May 2019, we launched our Inspectorate Report 2018.  The report outlines that 17,338 calls were made to the ISPCA's National Animal Cruelty Helpline resulting in 3,494 investigations, 1,102 animals being seized or surrendered and 18 cases finalised in court under the AHWA 2013.

You can view the full report here and our press release here.  

For more information as well as a copy of the Inspectorate Report 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014, please click here

ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline - 1890 515 515

ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline poster can be downloaded here 

If you believe an animal is being cruelly treated or neglected, please call 1890 515515. Monday to Friday 9.00am - 5.00pm in the strictest of confidence or report on line here