The recent series of dog attacks on sheep has provoked anger among farmers and there have been calls for pet owners to be more responsible.
John Lynskey, chairman of the IFA’s National Sheep Committee, warned that owners who do not have their dog under control at all times must realise they could be held responsible for such an attack “with serious consequences”.
He also urged hill walkers with dogs to ensure that they are fully under control at all times, as dogs running wild can terrorise a flock of sheep.
He said up to 2.5m lambs will be born on 30,000 sheep farms across the country over the next four months. Sheep flocks are very vulnerable to dog attacks at this critical time, and especially during the night.
Mr Lynskey said,”A dog attack on a sheep flock is extremely stressful and can inflict savage injuries, often fatal. Aside from the economic losses, for which dog owners can be held liable, the welfare implications for the flock can be very severe and long-lasting. Sheep never recover fully from a dog attack and can suffer ongoing difficulties, including reproduction problems and increased nervousness affecting their general health,” he said.
The IFA sheep farmers’ leader said under the Control of Dogs Act, it states very clearly: “If a dog worries livestock, the owner or any other person in charge of the dog shall be guilty of an offence unless it is established that at the material time the dog worried the livestock for the purpose of removing trespassing livestock and that having regard to all the circumstances the action was reasonable and necessary.”
The IFA man also pointed out that under the law, farmers are entitled to take whatever steps are necessary to protect their sheep flocks against marauding dogs on their lands.