In the run up to Christmas and on Black Friday, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and TD for Kildare South Martin Heydon has stressed the importance of responsible pet ownership.

Speaking in the Seanad on Thursday, Minister Heydon said “We must drive home the message now at this time of year that a dog is for life and not just for Christmas. Everybody who is contemplating getting a family pet this Christmas should bear that in mind.

“Imparting knowledge on animal welfare and responsible pet ownership plays a crucial role in improving standards nationally and can help to reduce the number of dogs which are abandoned, surrendered or rehomed.”

Minister Heydon said his Department as well as the Department of Rural and Community Development and local authorities were working to address short-term pressures on animal shelters also.

The Minister acknowledged “the fantastic effort and commitment made by animal welfare organisations and the many volunteers dedicated to the care and welfare of canines, who often operate in challenging and stressful circumstances”.

The most recent provision of animal welfare funding seen a record allocation of €3.7m to 98 organisations of which €2.7m was awarded to 68 organisations dealing with the welfare and rehoming of dogs. Minister Heydon outlined that there will be a further increase in the funding for the coming period which will be announced later this month.

“As with last year’s awards, this year’s funding will recognise the importance of education and dissemination of knowledge to improve animal welfare and, indeed, educating the public on the responsibilities involved with dog ownership.”

“Responsible pet ownership should be on everyone’s Christmas list,” Minister Heydon concluded.