Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare

The Social Democrats strongly advocate animal rights, and recognise animals as intelligent, sentient beings capable of complex thought and of experiencing pain and suffering. As a guiding principle, the State should strive to ensure that animals:

  • Live lives free of pain and discomfort in so far as that is possible.
  • Are strongly protected from cruelty, neglect and abandonment.
  • Live a “life worth living,” even within the context of food production.

The Social Democrats are eager to maintain the relatively high standard of animal welfare that exists within the farming industry in Ireland. Economic and commercial pressures have contributed to a global drift towards intensive systems of farming, so-called ‘factory farming’, which often subjects animals to extreme pain and suffering.

Our goal is to ensure that these practices do not become commonplace in Ireland, and to stop any existing practices that cause such suffering.

Our Animal Welfare and Rights Commitments

  • We support a phasing out of the state funding to the greyhound racing industry.
  • We will significantly increase funding for animal welfare charities in recognition that they are carrying out the duties of the state on our behalf.
  • We will aim to ensure that the state moves towards carrying out these welfare duties into the future in conjunction with local authorities.
  • We are in favour of harsher penalties for animal cruelty and would improve resources to boost enforcement of animal welfare laws.
  • We will continue to support the banning of the use of live hares in hare-coursing and prohibition of wild animals in circuses.
  • We will maintain our position against fox-hunting and fur-farming.
  • We favour the banning of live exports of animals to countries that have poor animal welfare protections, and the raising and enforcement of standards in relation to long journeys and animal transport vessels.
  • We will improve animal welfare standards as they apply to farming practices in Ireland, including pigs, sheep, cattle and chickens.
  • We would ban all experiments on animals that are not related to genuine medical research.
  • We support a ban on the prohibition of pets in rented accommodation, which is a significant root cause in animal surrender.
  • We will support allowing dogs, muzzled if necessary, on public transport, bringing Ireland into line with most other European countries in this regard. Our current rules strongly encourage car ownership and use for anyone with a pet, though we note that dogs are allowed on Irish Rail, with a muzzle required for certain dog breeds.
  • We will properly fund a trap neuter and return (TNR) scheme in conjunction with local authorities and animal welfare charities.
  • Investigate a form of financial assistance for vets’ bills for elderly people and people on low income, to mitigate another common reason for animal surrender.
  • Seek to apply increased regulation to the “puppy farming” industry.
  • We would seek to progress higher targets for the chipping of cats, dogs, and equine animals.
  • We would ensure that all zoos report animal welfare incidents, including deaths, on an annual basis.
  • We will push for a full review of our dog-breeding legislation as recent research from NUI Galway has shown that Irish legislation is decades behind other jurisdictions. The current legislation controlling so-called “dangerous breeds” gives people a false perception that other breeds are not prone to aggression. We need a complete overhaul of this legislation so that is based on evidence and places far more responsibility on owners of all breeds of dogs.