Dog owners must address their responsibilities as attacks on sheep rise

INISTIOGE sheep farmer, James Murphy said the latest series of savage dog attacks on sheep flocks must lead to dog owners taking greater responsibility. The incident 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 does not have their dog under control at all times must realise they could be held responsible for such an attack, with serious consequences,” hesaid if the attack in Co Roscommon.

INISTIOGE sheep farmer, James Murphy said the latest series of savage dog attacks on sheep flocks must lead to dog owners taking greater responsibility. The incident 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 does not have their dog under control at all times must realise they could be held responsible for such an attack, with serious consequences,” hesaid if the attack in Co Roscommon.

“Unfortunately, I am 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,” the chairman of the IFA National Sheep Committee said.

“Up to 2.5 million lambs will be born on 30,000 sheep farms across the country over the next 3 months. Sheep flocks are very vulnerable to dog attacks at this critical time, and especially during the night.”

Mr Murphy 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.

He added that 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.