3,000-4,000 sheep affected by dog attacks in Ireland each year

Statistics gathered by a farm-lobby group indicate that there are in the order of 300-400 sheep attacks in Ireland each year, with 3,000 to 4,000 sheep injured or killed.

Speaking in the Cooley Mountains to coincide with lambing season, the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) national sheep chairman, Sean Dennehy, said: “The family pet can turn into a marauding killer and cause savagery and mayhem on a defenceless sheep flock.

People who take dogs as pets have to take on the responsibility that goes with that.

“Unfortunately, there are too many people who casually take on a family pet, particularly for Christmas, but they are not prepared to devote the time to responsible dog ownership.”

Continuing, Dennehy explained: “In this blackspot, over 50 sheep have been killed and many more injured since the beginning of this year.

“In 2018, there were 18 attacks reported to the Dog Warden Service in Co. Louth and 31 dogs were seized in the Cooley region alone.”

He said: “Dog owners can be held responsible for any losses from attacks on sheep, 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.”

TV ad campaign

Dennehy also called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to re-run the TV ad campaign on responsible dog ownership from the 1980s.

He said the TV ad featuring Bonzo the dog was “an excellent reminder about the dangers of letting pet dogs out at night and the serious damage they could do to a sheep flock”.

Concluding, Dennehy reminded all dog owners, including farmers, that it is a legal requirement to microchip and register dogs.

He said under the Animal Health and Welfare Act all dogs must be microchipped and registered on an authorised database since March 31, 2016.