'Dangerous dogs' debate reignited after Irish woman mauled to death

A bull mastiff has a hose-down (Gettty)
A bull mastiff has a hose-down (Gettty)

The debate over so-called dangerous dogs has been reignited after a woman in Ireland was mauled to death by two dogs described as bullmastiffs.

Teresa McDonagh, aged in her 60s, was visiting relatives in Galway on Sunday (local time) when she was attacked by the dogs. She died at the scene.

Dog behaviour expert Nanci Creedon told the Irish Times dog legislation needs to be urgently updated to include a requirement to control dogs on private property.

She said that needs to be coupled with education on dog handling and ownership.

Irish law currently requires bullmastiffs be muzzled in public places, but there are no such restrictions on private property.

Irish media reports the dogs have been put down since the fatal attack.

New Zealand introduced tougher laws on "dangerous and menacing dogs" in March 2017 - but the SPCA slammed the laws, saying placing restrictions around breeds does not work.

"The SPCA believes that each individual dog should be judged based on temperament and behaviour, not breed," they wrote in a petition in 2016.

The leglisation required "menacing" breeds be muzzled in public and owners must prove they are capable of handling the dog. 

The "menacing" breeds are:

  • Brazilian Fila
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Perro de Presa Canario
  • American Pitbull Terrier

They are banned from being imported and must be neutered. 

In 2016 there were 13,576 ACC dog-related injury claims in New Zealand. The statistics do not include any information about the dog responsible for the injuries.