Dog owners urged to stop pets rambling after sheep butchered

A farmer has urged all dog owners to keep their animals inside or restrained from rambling when not under supervision following a vicious dog attack on his sheep, which left five dead last week in Co. Laois.

The incident occurred sometime during the day on Friday last (February 16). Speaking to AgriLand, the farmer explained: “I got a call to say there were a couple of sheep in the neighbour’s yard. I went down there and returned them to our own, as we thought they had broken out.

“There were 21 hoggets up the road, they’re yearling hoggets. There were only 14 of them there, and that was with the two that we returned.

“So we looked and there were dead ones up the other end of the field, which would be a good bit away from the home house. The field was nowhere near the house, so no one at home would have heard anything.

There were dead ones in the drain and the neighbour’s field. They did awful damage and, of the hoggets that survived, there’s one of them not right; it’s probably going to die.

“People just don’t realise; I see articles where lads lose 30 or 40 sheep – €5,000 or €6,000 worth of stock; they’re gone in a shot, just because a fellow hasn’t tied up his animals.”

It was confirmed that five were killed; but, more are probably going to be lost as a result of the attack.

The farmer in question warned dog owners to be vigilant of their animals, stressing that if they’re not at home to supervise the dog, or at night time, to make sure the dog is inside or restrained.

I’ve no bother with lads having a dog out roaming once he’s there to supervise him; but, don’t just assume that the dog isn’t rambling and isn’t going to do a bit of damage – especially when you get a couple of them together.

“It’s only instinct; the dog is only doing what it’s instinctively reared or bred to do. You can’t blame the dogs; it’s the owners that aren’t being fair on their animals.”

The farmer warned that it’s not just rural dwellers that need to supervise their pets – dogs in towns are just as capable of roaming.

“If you’re living in the town or the countryside, regardless, dogs out of a town will wander out the road – there’s nowhere in Laois that is more than a mile and a half from a field.

“Lads might think they’re in the town, they’re nowhere near the countryside; lads just presume that their dogs will be alright.

These things have been happening for years and years and people just don’t seem to get the bloody message. That’s the worst of it.

Owners are legally liable

This was not the only dog attack in Co. Laois in recent days. According to county chairman of Laois Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Francie Gorman, another sheep was killed in the Abbeyleix area of the county last week.

Gorman said: “There was an attack on a flock of in-lamb ewes, one of them killed and six of them badly damaged in Abbeyleix. You know the trauma they’d have had and they only six or seven weeks away from lambing.

“People need to know where their dogs are at all times and if they’re not in control of them they need to be locked up.

They are liable essentially for first loss and consequential losses as a result of sheep worrying.

“In a lot of cases, it runs into a lot of money – a huge financial hit for the farmer involved and, if the dog owners are found, they are liable,” the chairman warned.

“There is a legal requirement on dog owners to have their dogs microchipped [for identification] – but, the microchip won’t stop the dogs running out the gate if no one is looking after them.

“I think the laws need to be strengthened in some shape or form to give greater protection to the flock owner. If their dog does do damage, they are liable to be followed up for quite a significant sum of money,” Gorman added.