Dog Owners responsibility to prevent livestock worrying

Dog Owners Responsibility to Prevent Livestock Worrying

Sheep and lambs are very vulnerable to attack from dogs at this time of year. Dog owners are asked to be particularly vigilant at this time and to ensure their dog is kept under effective control at all trims.

In particular the dog owner must ensure that their dog is secured at night and at all times when the owner is absent. Dogs must never be allowed to stray unaccompanied off the owner’s

The Control of Dogs Act 1986 (as amended) sets out the principal rules pertaining to liability for damages caused by dogs. If a dog worries livestock, the Act provides that the owner or the person in charge of the dog shall be guilty of an offence.

The only exception is where it is established that at the time the dog worried the livestock it was for the purpose of removing trespassing livestock and that having regard to all the circumstances, the action was reasonable and necessary.

The term ‘worry’ in relation to livestock means to attack or kill, or to chase livestock in such a way as may reasonably be expected to cause death or injury or suffering to the livestock, or to result in financial loss to the owner of the livestock.

Section 21 of the Act imposes strict liability upon a dog owner for any injuries caused by dogs to livestock and for damage which results when a dog attacks a person. It provides that the owner of a dog may be liable for damage caused in an attack on any person by the dog and for injury done by it to any livestock.

Where livestock are injured by a dog on land onto which the livestock had strayed and either the dog belonged to the occupier of the land or its presence on the land was authorised by the occupier, a person shall not be liable under this section in respect of injury caused to the livestock unless the person caused the dog to attack the livestock.

The following 9-point plan is relevant for farmers who encounter a dog attack on their land:
1. Stop the dogs if possible by non-lethal force. If possible confine the dogs and immediately contact the dog warden.
2. Only shoot the dogs where there is no other reasonable means of ending the attack.
3. Record all evidence including date/time of the attack and names of any witnesses. Photos and/or video evidence are particularly useful.
4. Inform Leitrim Dog Warden Service immediately, 071 9648300.
5. Inform the Gardai immediately.
6. Contact your local veterinary practitioner to examine any injured or traumatised animals.
7. Obtain a valuation of losses where applicable.
8. Inform your insurance company where applicable.
9. Inform all livestock-farming neighbours as soon as possible.

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