The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has said much stronger action is required to address the problem of dog attacks on sheep flocks.
IFA national sheep chairman John Lynskey said that, with the darker evenings and nights at this time of year, dog attacks increase. He said recent cases have been reported in Wexford, Kildare, Offaly, Galway, Dublin and Roscommon. Marauding dogs can inflict terrible suffering and pain and, in many cases, death, the IFA said.
Mr Lynskey said dog owners need to take a much more active and responsible approach towards ownership and towards ensuring that their pets are under control at all times: “Owners can be held responsible for any losses involved in dog attacks, with serious financial and legal consequences. Farmers have a right to protect their sheep flock and can shoot a dog worrying, or about to worry their flock.”
Mr Lynskey said that 85 per cent of dogs are now microchipped, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). He encouraged all dog owners, including farmers, to make sure to get their dogs microchipped, and called for the introduction of a single database with controls on change of ownership so that all owners are held accountable: “To make microchipping effective, Minister Creed must pull together a single database and proper controls on ownership.”
He called on Minister Creed and the DAFM to launch a major publicity campaign on responsible ownership. He said a major TV, radio and social media campaign is required to get the message across to the 800,000 people with dogs in Ireland.
The IFA has a protocol to help farmers who encounter a dog attack on their sheep flock, which may be downloaded here.