Leitrim IFA Sheep Chairperson, John Joe Dolan, said the latest series of savage dog attacks on sheep flocks must lead to dog owners taking greater responsibility for their pets.
“The incident in Roscommon has been very stressful for the sheep farmer, who has to deal with the trauma of his flock of 95 ewes being attacked. 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,” said Mr Dolan.
The IFA Sheep Chairperson said the latest cases in Roscommon and Laois are becoming all too common with IFA taking calls on a frequent basis from sheep farmers around the country who have suffered similar such attacks.
“There are far too many dog owners not taking the responsibility that goes with owning a pet. Dog owners have an obligation to have their dog under control at all times,” he added stating that sheep flocks are very vulnerable to dog attacks at lambing times, especially during the night.
“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.
Mr Dolan 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.”
He 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.