HELP THE DOGS - HOLD CAVAN COUNTY COUNCIL TO ACCOUNT!
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(please see end of text for information about the photo above)
WE WANT CAVAN COUNTY COUNCIL TO BE OPEN ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING IN RELATION TO ANIMAL WELFARE MATTERS IN THE COUNTY.
WE WANT THEM TO ENGAGE WITH THE ISSUES AND EXPLAIN THEIR POSITION, RATHER THAN DO WHAT THEY WANT AND IGNORE VOICES OF DISSENT.
WE WANT THEM TO UPHOLD THE VALUES OF OUR DEMOCRACY THAT REQUIRE PUBLIC OFFICIALS TO ACT IN AN OPEN MANNER, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAWS OF IRELAND.
WE WANT THEM TO BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS.
We are petitioning you to take action regarding the conduct of Cavan County Council employees. Council employees are public servants. They are there to serve the public and uphold the democracy of Ireland. In order for a democracy to function properly it requires both local and national government to operate in an open and transparent manner. Where this does not happen, public servants must be held accountable for these failures.
Cavan County Council employees have acted in direct violation of these important principles. We believe this to be a blatant misuse of power. We believe this issue to be so serious that it warrants the intervention of Councillors and Mr Murphy TD, as Minister responsible for ultimate oversight of this Council.
Our concerns are as follows:
1. An Bord Pleanala have issued an order limiting a dog breeding establishment in Cavan to only keep 180 dogs. The only statutory definition of the word dog can be found in the Control of Dogs Act 1986. This Act defines a “dog” as a bitch or dog of any age. For the purposes of enforcing the ABP decision Cavan Co Co have decided to interpret the word “dog” as “adult dog”. However:
- they refuse to explain the basis on which they believe this interpretation to be correct;
- they refuse to explain why they do not believe the statutory definition of “dog” to be appropriate; and
- they refuse to define what an “adult dog” is.
The public are entitled to know the basis on which a local authority interprets a planning decision. Cavan’s failure to answer these basic questions is a dereliction of duty. The public cannot decide whether or not they wish to challenge these decisions, if the Council refuse to explain the basis of their decision making.
2. Cavan refused to discuss the above matters, and other concerns relating to dog breeding, unless the first meeting was confidential. The only reason Cavan gave for the requirement for confidentiality was that they wanted the opportunity to speak “frankly” and not have matters misinterpreted in social media.
The public are entitled to have matters of public interest and concern addressed in an open manner. It is not for a local authority to make the discussion of matters of public interest conditional on confidentiality in order to protect their own reputation. There are very clear and narrow instances when a local authority can withhold information from the public, this is not one of them. Therefore to refuse to engage on the basis that Cavan have done, is a misuse of power.
3. Serious concerns have been raised about the running of Cavan pound. Cavan have provided a copy of the job description for the dog warden position. This job description sets out that the dog warden is required to prioritise the income of the pound. No mention is made of animal welfare. Cavan will not address how the priority of securing income sits with the requirement of the Council and the pound to comply with the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 to ensure the welfare of animals in their care. The failure to adequately protect the welfare of a number of dogs over the last 18 months raises concerns that the requirement to prioritise income has resulted in the infringement of the AWHA.
Councils and their employees are subject to the law. Council policies are subject to the law. Cavan need to explain how their policy to prioritise pound income does not affect their obligations under the AWHA, or if it does, they need to amend their policy. A failure to act otherwise means Cavan are acting outside of their authority.
Please advise what steps you intend to take in relation to this petition. In the spirit of openness and transparency all responses will be made public.
(photo from Raymond Cullivan's puppy farm in Co Cavan, taken in early 2016. The wooden boxes were holding whelping bitches. They had no means of escaping the boxes. The plastic bottles on the side of the boxes were the water supply. At the time photo was taken this was a legal and licensed puppy farm that had been inspected by the County vet Michael O'Sullivan. Mr O'Sullivan had seen the whelping boxes and had considered them to be appropriate. Mr O'Sullivan however appeared to be ignorant of guidelines that made the use of these crates illegal. Subsequent to the filming of the BBC Panorama programme "Britain's Puppy dealers exposed" Cullivan was required to remove the crates. This puppy farm remains operational and in 2017 Cullivan was given planning permission to continue to run the farm with 300 breeding bitches)
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