Cork County Council: Assistance dog shouldn’t need to have licence

Cork County Council: Assistance dog shouldn’t need to have licence
Irish Guide Dogs ambassador Roy Keane pictured with Assistance Dog Fletcher. Pic: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Cork County Council is set to write to the Government to request it updates the Dog Control Act to include licence exemptions for all disability assistance dogs.

Currently, section 5 of the act states that a licence is not required for dogs in the possession of a local authority, the ISPCA, or the Gardai, for any dog imported into the country for less than thirty days, or for guide dogs used by blind people.

Sinn Fein Councillor put forward a motion at this week’s meeting of the council that it writes to the Government asking it to amend the act and include an exemption for other assistance dogs which serve people with other disabilities such as autism.

“Earlier in the month I had a query from a group with regards to licensing (of autism assistance dogs). They believed they were exempt. Sadly they are not,” she said.

“The current legislation is antiquated and probably has not been reviewed for many, many years. I think now is the opportunity to look at it and to change it.” 

She said all assistance dogs should be exempt from licensing once they have been provided by a registered charity.

A number of councillors spoke in support of the motion, including Fine Gael representative Susan McCarthy.

She spoke about fellow Cork woman Sinead Kane, a visually impaired Youghal native who recently overcame her disability to complete seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

She said assistance dogs can have a huge impact on people’s lives and said everything that can be done must be done to help the facilitation of such a support.

County Mayor Seamus McGrath said the motion was an excellent one, and long overdue.

The council will now write to the Government to ask for the legislative change.

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