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ISPCA Inspectorate

ISPCA Inspectors are the front line against animal cruelty in Ireland, investigating complaints of abandoned, neglected and cruelly treated animals. 

ISPCA Inspectors investigate animal cruelty

With legal power under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 (AHWA), 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 2017 the ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline handled 16,211 calls resulting in:

  • 3,273 investigations carried out by ISPCA Inspectors
  • 1,250 animals being seized or surrendered to the ISPCA
  • 19 new prosecutions initiated as a result of ISPCA investigations
  • 21 cases finalised in court in 2017

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

  • 69,211 calls made the the National Animal Cruelty Helpline
  • 14,338 investigations carried out by ISPCA Inspectors
  • 4,045 animals seized or surrendered to the ISPCA
  • 111 prosecutions initiated as a result of ISPCA investigations with 46 cases finalised in court to-date

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', the Inspectors decide if an offence has been committed. If so, ISPCA inspectors, as authorised officers, can initiate a prosecution under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013.

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 Animal Health and Welfare Act 

The Act also gives an ISPCA Inspector 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 Welfare Notices’ such as telling owners that they must get vet care or improve the way they feed and house their animals. 
  • Failure to comply with the Notice is an offence and the Inspector can seize 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 euthanase 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 Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 provides more information on the specific powers of the ISPCA’s Inspectorate in Section 38.

Penalties under the Animal Health and Welfare Act

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. €250,000 on indictment (i.e. in higher court)
  • A person convicted of an offence may be imprisoned for up to six months 5 years on indictment
  • A person convicted of an offence may be banned from buying, owning or caring for an animal for any period, including life.

Inspectorate Report 2017

On Wednesday 7th March 2018, we launched our Inspectorate Report 2017.  The report outlines that 16,211 calls were made to the ISPCA's National Animal Cruelty Helpline resulting in 3,273 investigations, 1,250 animals being seized or surrendered, 19 new prosecutions initiated and 21 cases finalised in court under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 (AHWA).

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

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

National Animal Cruelty Helpline

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