Guide to companion animal legislation

Please note that these guides do not constitute legal advice and any information provided in the guides should not be construed as legal advice or legal interpretation. We do not accept any liability for any loss caused by your reliance on this guide.

Below is the list of acts and regulations for companion animals. While there is other animal welfare legislation, the following refers mainly to companion animals.

The Animal Health and Welfare Act, 2013

The Animal Health and Welfare Act, 2013 was introduced in March 2014. It brings together and modernises many existing laws in the area of animal health and welfare. It replaces the 1911 and 1966 Acts. While in the past animal welfare and animal health may have been seen as separate issues, the Act recognises that they are closely related and in many cases inter-dependent.

Read more on key points including responsibilities of animal owners, welfare of animals, tail docking, and offences in our The Animal Health and Welfare Act, 2013 guide.

Protection of Animals Act, 1911

This was the first major piece of animal welfare legislation. The Act set laws against the mistreatment of animals. It prohibited beating, kicking, over-riding, torture and terrifying animals. It also put the onus on owners to ensure that these things didn’t happen. Those found guilty of cruelty were liable to a fine of up to 25 pounds or a maximum of six months’ imprisonment. It was quite robust legislation for its day.

Pounds (Provision and Maintenance) Act, 1935

The 1935 Act placed a duty on local authorities to provide pounds. The authorities were required to ensure the premises are suitable for purpose and also to appoint "fit and proper" staff to look after those pounds.

Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act, 1965

In 1965, the amendment to the Act set out a number of additional laws. Among them were:

  • The prohibition of selling pets in a public place
  • The prohibition of the sale of pets to children under 12
  • Provisions for pet shops
  • Provisions for ownership of stray dogs
  • Restrictions on trapping animals
  • Provisions for the care of impounded animals
  • Prohibition of exercising greyhounds in public places, unless they were under control

Animals Act, 1985

Animals Remedies Act, 1993

The 1993 Animals Remedies Act places restrictions on the sale, importation and use of certain animal remedies and treatments.

Animal Remedies Regulations 2005

European Communities (Animal Remedies) Regulations 2007

The European Communities (Animal Remedies)(No.2) Regulations, 2009

In 2005, the Irish Government introduced animal remedies regulations to comply with upcoming EU legislation. Under the Irish and EU regulations, animal remedies can only be prescribed for companion animals by a registered vet. The vet can only issue prescriptions to animals under their care. The European regulations set rules regarding the authorisation, manufacture, import, wholesale and sale of animal remedies.

Full primary and secondary legislation, up to 2003, may be found on the Irish Statute Book website.

Other legislation and information may be found on the Oireachtas website.