Do you know the laws concerning dog ownership in Ireland? Did you even know there were laws? I have decided to write up a quick summary as it is clear that not many people are aware of the laws or choose to ignore them. To my international followers your country will likely have a different set of laws, like the UK for example, the laws are quite different. J

I will start with the obvious – All dogs require a DOG LICENSE. The only dogs exempt from this license are Guide Dogs and dogs which are in the country for less than 30 Days. Puppies under the age of 4 months do not need a license. If you do not think you can afford a license, it’s simple, don’t get a dog. Now we get down to the finer and often overlooked details.

Dangerous Dogs:Akita

The following dogs (and their crossbreeds) must be kept on a short leash by a person over the age of 16 and muzzled at ALL times in public. They must also wear a collar with the name and address of the owner at all times. These rules apply to everyone except: Gardaí, the Dublin Harbour Police, State Airport Police and rescue teams. Guide Dogs are exempt from muzzling.

The list of Dangerous Dogs is as follows:

  1. American Pit Bull Terrier
  2. English bull Terrier
  3. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  4. Bull Mastiff
  5. Doberman Pinscher
  6. German Shepard (Alsatian)
  7. Rottweiler
  8. Japanese Akita
  9. Japanese Tosa
  10. Bandog

Guard Dogs:

All guard dogs at none- residential businesses have to be registered and micro chipped. As with dangerous dogs they have to wear a collar with name and address of owner at all times. They must also be either accompanied by a handler or secured so that it cannot wander around the premises freely. Appropriate warnings must be displayed at the property entrance.

Doberman

Important: Failure to adhere to these laws may result in an on the spot fine (Fine dependent on area), or even imprisonment on a conviction.

Recently I have noticed a lot of lawbreakers in my area. It does not matter how well trained your dog is, if it is on the list, obey the law. If you are concerned for your Welfare or others, do not hesitate to inform the local authorities.

 

 

 

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Ramsey says hello !

Ramsey is the latest addition to the family, my beautiful pet rat! No doubt some of you just cringed; well let me assure you he is disease free and just as good (if not better) a companion then a dog or a cat. I got Ramsey just before Christmas 2013 from a friend who works in a local pet shop. He was the last of a litter and getting old and he knew I was on the lookout for a new furry friend so asked if I was on for giving him a home. I couldn’t leave the poor boy on his own so didn’t hesitate to say yes!

Rats should always be housed in pairs or groups as they are very social animals and can get lonely. I give Ramsey lots of attention every day and whenever I am home he gets free run of my bedroom and sometimes gets the chance to explore the other rooms as well. He will usually spend half an hour at a time running around, climbing, playing and trouble making before retreating back to his bed for one of several naps a day.

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Up to no good, looking for the sweets I had in my handbag :P

Rats are extremely intelligent animals and they form strong bonds with their companions be it other rats, humans or sometimes even other species of animals. With pet rats you have to really earn their trust. When I first got Ramsey he was very shy, he would hide in his bed whenever I approached and when the cage was open he would look out for a while before going back into hiding. With time and patience he began to get more curious and brave. Now I can’t open his cage quick enough, he is already waiting to be let out to play. He is still a little shy when it comes to handling, but he knows who his mammy is and is starting to trust me more each day.

Enrichment is very important when keeping rats as they get bored easily. Ramsey isn’t too interested in toys but he does love to climb and explore. I hide treats for him around the room and even in a shallow tub of water, he doesn’t mind getting wet. Most rats love to swim but need to be introduced slowly to water as they will be cautious of new experiences. Gradually I am filling the tub with more water and will get him a larger tub soon. You can also teach rats a whole range of fun tricks, which can be as fun for them as it is for you. Just make sure that trust is established first and be patient with them.

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Cleaning his face :)

Rats get a lot of bad press, but trust me they make great companions and are very clean animals, much more so then dogs. I wouldn’t trade my little guy in for the world. Remember as with all pets make 100% sure you can offer them a forever home, no excuses later on down the line.

 

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Pyrenean ibex, Baiji Dolphin, Western Black Rhinoceros and the Japanese River Otter have all recently been declared extinct. How long until the Giant Panda(Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is to join this list? With less than 2000 recorded in the wild and only a handful more in captivity, the Giant Pandas time, sadly, may come sooner rather than later if conservation efforts do not prove successful.

The Panda used to found in both lowland and mountainous areas across China; however deforestation and farming has restricted their natural habitat to the mountains in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu. The broadleaf/coniferous forest areas in which the Pandas reside are often found so high up the mountains they are surrounded by clouds. As solitary animals, Pandas spend most of their lives alone, coming together only to mate, and communicating through scents and calls.

Tian Tian (Sweetie) at Edinburgh Zoo - Photo by Milca G photography (check out her facebook page link at bottom article)

Tian Tian (Sweetie) at Edinburgh Zoo – Photo by Milca G photography (check out her facebook page link at bottom article)

While their digestive system is designed for a carnivorous diet, they feed almost entirely of bamboo. Given the poor nutritional value of bamboo they have to eat very large quantities each day, up to a third of their own weight. This specialist diet is also a player in their endangerment due to the damage of bamboo forests limiting their habitat further. Occasionally they will eat small rodents and eggs, but this makes up only about 1% of their diet. The Panda is active both night and day and spends most of its time eating, finding food and sleeping.

A female Panda is only fertile for 2-3 days, once a year, and the duration of a pregnancy is varied. This leaves very little margin for error and if that window is missed, there is another years wait. A Panda will usually give birth to two young, however in the wild it is very common for only one to survive. There are reintroduction programs in place; however they have not seen much success over the years and Pandas numbers in the wild continue to decline.

Yang Guang (Sunshine), the male Panda at Edinburgh Zoo - Authors own

Yang Guang (Sunshine), the male Panda at Edinburgh Zoo – Authors own

These majestic creatures are currently listed as endangered and it looks to remain so for a very long time. One can only hope their situation does not get worse and we can sustain the wild population that is present with hopes of an increase over the years. The WWF, Chengdu Research Base, Pandas International etc are all organisations which work for Panda conservation worldwide. Zoo’s across the world are also involved in Panda conservation by means of raising money for research, sanctuaries and breeding programs, as well as being involved in breeding programs themselves.

The photos featured in this article were taken in Edinburgh Zoo this year. Edinburgh Zoo are one such zoo which aid in Giant Panda conservation by means of putting money back into conservation and educating their visitors about the Giant Panda. They are currently home to two beautiful Pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, with whom they are hoping to successfully breed from over the coming years while they are on loan. I one day hope to see Giant Pandas in the wild, but for now seeing them in Edinburgh was truly inspiring.

 

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4 days until voting starts in my home country Ireland.

The number of Irish candidates who have signed the Animal Welfare pledge is now at 5. All four candidates are from the Dublin constituency so my followers from that area are now spoiled for choice ;)

Paul Murphy MEP (Socialist Party):

Paul was the first Irish candidate to sign the Animal Welfare Pledge back in February. He is also strongly against the cruel “sport” of hare coursing and has been a strong voice for animal welfare throughout his time in the European Parliament.

Visit his Facebook and Webpage for more information.

Paul Murphy with the Animal Welfare Pledge

Paul Murphy with the Animal Welfare Pledge

 

Nessa Childers (Independent):

Nessa shortly followed Paul in signing the Animal Welfare pledge. I didn’t deal directly with Nessa but her office was very quick to respond and she signed as promised within days of my request. She is also strongly opposed to Hare Coursing.

Visit her Facebook and Webpage for more information.

Nessa signing the pledge.

Nessa signing the pledge.

 

Mary Fitzpatrick (Alliance of Liberals & Democrats in Europe/Fianna Fail):

Mary Fitzpatrick showed her support for the Animal Welfare pledge earlier this week. If elected this will be her first time in European Parliament and I hope she will stay true to the pledge and give animals a voice :)

Visit her Facebook and Webpage for more information.

Eamon Ryan (Green Party)

Eamon is the latest to sign the pledge from Ireland and given he is the current leader of the Irish Green Party , his signing came as no surprise. Eamon is strongly opposed to Fox Hunting and Hare coursing in Ireland and in 2012 he attended an anti-coursing protest outside Dublin Castle.

Visit his Facebook and Webpage for more information.

 Damon Matthew Wise (Fís Nua)

Damon is no stranger to the Animal Welfare scene having volunteered for Second chance Animal Rescue and was a member of Brighton Animal Rights campaign in England when at college. As soon as I had informed him of the pledge he replied promptly, with interest and has now signed and showed his support.

 

You can find more information about the pledge on the Vote for Animals webpage. Eurogroup have released a new feature which now makes it very easy to check out the Animal Welfare Friendly candidates in your country. Simply click on on the drop down box, choose your country and a list of candidates from that country who support Animal Welfare will appear. Check it frequently to stay up to date :)

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Give animals a voice :)

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https://www.facebook.com/pawsforamo

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It has been over 2 weeks since I started my individual campaign to get as many Irish candidates on board the “Animal Welfare pledge” laid out by the Eurogroup for animals. The response (or lack thereof) is worrying …

Still struggling on making a decision? Love animals? Want to see a Europe wide change in attitudes to Animal Welfare? Well then keep an eye on this:

http://www.voteforanimals.eu/site/

So far only 2 Irish candidates have signed: Paul Murphy and Nessa Childers. Existing MEPS who are looking to get re-elected have no excuses. The Eurogroup campaign has been ongoing for several weeks now and there has been ample opportunity to sign the pledge and it has been well advertised.

I am only beginning to directly contact candidates outside my own constituency as I wanted to put the focus on my area first so I could make an informed voting decision. I have been disappointed so far. Here is a table outlining who I have contacted in the Midlands-North-West:

The Candidate: Date of first contact: Their response so far (up to 2nd May): Signed:
Jim Higgins 22/04 “Thank you for contacting the office . . . . . . . We will pass on your message”. No
Mairead McGuinness 17/04 No reply. No
Lorraine Higgins 22/04 No reply. No
Pat The Cope Gallagher 14/04 “Will pass on the message” No
Thomas Byrne 22/04 No reply. No
Mark Dearey 22/04 Apologised for the oversight, is opposed to Bloodsports, will take a look ASAP. No
Matt Carthy 30/04 No reply. No
Marian Harkin 17/04 No reply. No
Rónán Mullen 29/04 No reply. No
Mark Fitzsimmons 02/05 No reply. No
Luke “Ming” Flanaghan 22/04 & 27/04 No reply. No

 

In addition to the pledge, on a local level I have been keeping an eye on the the Ban Bloodsports. facebook page. They post candidate views on Bloodsports as they receive them and a list of politicians and information with regards to Animal Welfare and Bloodsports can be found here: Views

I will update the table in this post as and when I get responses, or when someone signs !

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Did you know that there are less than 1000 Bactrian Camels left in the wild? The number is currently estimated to be around 500-600. This is a startling number, considering how popular these two-humped ungulates are in zoos and circuses across the world, not to mention thousands of Bactrian camel herds which have been bred domestically over the years living in large herds (app 2million).

The wild Bactrian Camel is currently found only in Northwest China and in Southwest Mongolia (Gobi Desert).In order to survive the harsh conditions of their main habitat the Bactrian Camel features a double set of eyelashes, a hair lined inner ear and thin nostrils to protect against dust and sandstorms. After the harsh winters they can quickly shed their thick shaggy coats to adjust effectively to the changing seasons.

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Batrian Camel shedding lumps of fur for the warmer weather.

Food and water are not always readily available and the Camel has a great coping mechanism for this as well , being able to last sometimes for months on end without water. They do this by converting the fat stored in their two large humps into water when resources are scarce. It also helps that they can feed on dry and sometimes thorny plants that most herbivores avoid as well as drink salt water when fresh food and water are hard to find.

The Bactrian Camels demise is entirely down to human interference. The main reasons for their endangerment being: Habitat loss due to industrial development, and increasing human population forcing the mixing of wild populations and domestic herds. While they are masters of survival in their harsh habitats the battle against humans and extinction is proving one battle they may not win unless conservation efforts see a huge turn around in the future.

For more information on the conservation of the wonderful Bactrian Camel check out :

http://www.wildcamels.com/

http://www.edgeofexistence.org/mammals/species_info.php?id=8

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“Rats with wings”

“Vermin”

“Dirty”

Just some of the words I have heard people use to label feral pigeons. Well it is time to set the record straight. The chances of you or anyone catching something from a pigeon are extremely rare; you should be more worried about your pet dog or cat as they are a much higher risk. Is your pet a vermin? I didn’t think so. Give the poor guys a break they have lived along side humans throughout history and in the case of the Passenger Pigeon, they have already watched as humans killed of an entire species of Pigeon. The Pigeon has served as a messenger, food, entertainment and even a religious symbol in our history so in my opinion they deserve a lot more recognition then just a common pest.

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Large flock of Pigeons in the Dam Square Amsterdam (Authors Own)

Ok so they manage to get their poop all over your car, or all over the buildings where they roost, but even Pigeon poop has come in useful in the past as a highly valued fertilizer. Nowadays Pigeon breeders are still known to collect all that left over excrement and throw it on their gardens. Some people would argue that this is extremely harmful however this is often and exaggeration. Most animal faeces can carry a number of zoonotic diseases and health risks and there are always preventative measures to take. The same care is required of any caged bird when it comes to their droppings as is required of Pigeons. When dealing with large quantities wear a face mask and gloves in a well ventilated area.

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A thirsty Pigeon

As you may already have gathered, I love Pigeons. There have been countless behavioural studies carried out on Pigeons to help discover the secret to their amazing ability to navigate over long distances and while this skill alone is pretty impressive, it does not stop there. Did you know that it has been argued that Pigeons also possess “self recognition”? As humans we take that for granted, however in none human animals it is not a common observation. The method scientists use to explore this trait in animals is called “The Mirror Test” and only a few have been recorded to have passed including Bonobos, Chimpanzees, Bottle nosed Dolphins and Elephants. While Pigeons are still on the “questionable” list it is an incredible mark on their intelligence to be considered alongside Magpies who also succeed during studies.

To conclude:

  1. A Pigeon is very unlikely to succeed in killing you.
  2. You are more likely to catch something cuddling your beloved pet then you are from a Pigeon.
  3. We are just as guilty of overpopulation then they are.
  4. They are super smart and useful in a communications blackout.
  5. Pigeons are just awesome :)

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