19 May 2022

Reminder to dog owners of responsibilities as lambing season approaches

The latest figures compiled by local authorities show that there were 240 incidences of ‘Livestock Worrying’ in 2020

Tipperary farming: call for tougher laws around dog control

With lambing season approaching it is critical that dog owners have their pet under control at all times.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, have reminded dog owners of their responsibilities and the vulnerability of sheep to dog attacks, as lambing season approaches.

The two Ministers said the issue is one of grave concern to the farming community and that attacks on sheep are happening far too often in the rural countryside.

The latest figures compiled by local authorities show that there were 240 incidences of ‘Livestock Worrying’ in 2020 – with a similar number expected when the 2021 returns are completed.

Dog attacks cause serious injury or death to sheep and can cause serious distress and financial loss for farm families.

Minister Humphreys and McConalogue today visited Donnie Anderson’s Farm in West Dublin where they announced the start of an awareness campaign that will run over lambing season.

Speaking today, Minister Humphreys said: “Attacks on sheep can have a devastating impact on farmers, their business, and their families. I’m a dog owner myself and I know the vast majority of dog owners are extremely responsible. But the latest figures show that in 2020, there were 240 incidents of ‘Livestock Worrying’ reported to local authorities.

"As the lambing season begins, we are hearing more and more reports of incidents in Rural Ireland. Some 2.5 million lambs will be born on farms all over Ireland this springtime. Sheep flocks are very vulnerable to dog attacks at this critical time, and especially during the night.

“Our farmers are the backbone of our community and any incident that puts their livestock at risk can have a detrimental impact on the animals and the farmer in question. So I’m appealing to dog owners today, particularly in rural areas, to please keep your dogs on the leash and be vigilant at all times.”

Minister McConalogue added: “Sheep worrying causes immense and unnecessary stress for farmers, and serious animal welfare issues for sheep and new-born lambs. Uncontrolled pets can decimate a flock within minutes, with reports suggesting that up to 4,000 sheep are killed or seriously injured in dog attacks every year. Pet owners are responsible for ensuring that their dogs are under control. 

‘‘Dog owners must take responsibility for their pets, which must be under control at all times – remember, even the gentlest family pet can kill or maim sheep and lambs. Never let your dog out unsupervised, especially at night.”

The Minister added that responsible pet ownership is a priority for his Department. Advising that all dogs must be microchipped under the law.

“By law, every dog must be microchipped and the possession, movement, sale or supply of an unchipped dog is an offence. I am committed to working with Minister Humphreys to ensure sheep-worrying by dogs becomes a thing of the past, and our officials are working together to improve enforcement of the laws applicable to dogs.”

Finally, the Minister reminded anyone concerned about incidents of animal neglect or cruelty that they can contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine helpline by phone or on the dedicated email address.

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