Dog attacks on sheep at this time of year are not uncommon and with many ewes on farms in-lamb, it is important to know what to do if your flock is attacked.
An IFA Protocol sets out the actions farmers should take if they encounter a dog attack on their sheep:
1. Stop the dogs
On encountering a dog attack on sheep, the first priority must be to stop the attack immediately, apprehend the marauding dog or dogs and look after the welfare of the sheep.
2. Follow the Law
It is very important that sheep farmers are aware of, and follow the law, in the context of protecting their sheep flock against marauding dogs – Read the 1986 Control of Dogs Act – Defence in action for damages for shooting a dog.
3. Inform the Gardai
It is very important that a sheep farmer would notify the Gardai of any dog attack on their sheep.
If a dog is shot following or threating a sheep flock, the person who shot the dog must notify the member in charge at the nearest Garda Station to the place where the dog was shot, within 48 hours.
It is important that the owner of the sheep would report the incident in full, make an official complaint and request that a full investigation is undertaken and report filed. In addition, the farmer should request a site visit from the Garda.
4. Ring the Dog Warden
Immediate contact should be made with the local dog warden of any sheep attack and the full details reported with a request for a site visit and full report to be filed.
5. Contact the IFA
All dog attacks should be notified to the local IFA regional office or head office, and the local IFA branch representative and member of the National Sheep Committee from the County involved should be informed.
6. Ring the Vet
To look after any injured sheep and protect the welfare of the flock, a vet should be contacted and asked to visit and inspect the flock.
The farmer should ask the vet to write a brief report recording the important statistics such as the numbers dead, severely injured and treated. This report is vital evidence on the case.
7. Keep the Evidence/Take a picture
Pictures of dead sheep, injured sheep, dead dogs etc., should be taken on the spot with a smart phone etc., as this again can prove to be vitally important in terms of evidence.
All dead sheep must be disposed of and recorded into the knackery.
8. Get a valuation of losses
Contact a local auctioneer or valuer and have any dead sheep valued on the spot and any other losses documented.
9. Inform your insurance company
It is very important to inform your insurance company of any dog attack as soon as possible after the incident occurs.
Likewise it is very important to establish the insurance company of the dog owner (home and/or farm insurance).
10. Tell your sheep farming neighbours
It is very important that other sheep farmers in the local area are aware of any dog attack in their vicinity, particularly if the dogs are not apprehended.
Utilise the local community alert or text messaging facility if available.