All dog owners will have to have their dogs microchipped by 2016 or face fines.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney made the announcement yesterday, along with some other major overhauls of animal welfare legislation.

Compulosry microchipping means that all of the dogs details will be recorded in a database, making it easier for owners to be found.

The costs is around €30.00 to €40.00, but Minister Coveney said funding will be provided to dog welfare charities to carry out free or subsidised microchipping for those who can’t afford it.

New legislation also includes a ban on children buying animals, makes it an offence to bet on or even attend a dog fight, tougher penalities for animal abuse or neglect, and for the first time animal welfare groups, vets and veterinary nurses can be registered and trained as enforcement officers to further enforce new laws.

For serious cases of neglect and cruelty fines of up to €250,000 can be issued and prison sentences of up to 5 years, judges will also be given the power to impose a lifetime ban on owning animals.

While many of the new laws were welcomed by animal rights groups the most pressing issue of the day – live exports to the Middle East – was not addressed by the Minister, which was disappointing for protestors and animal welfare groups who had attended the conference in the hope of pressing the urgent matter.

The new animal welfare legislation also fails to cover animals in circuses, hare coursing, fox hunting, fur farming, and puppy farms. Animal welfare groups will continue to fight for these issues until the laws are changed.

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