Bigger fines are needed as a deterrent against irresponsible dog ownership, according to the chair of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) sheep committee.
Sean Dennehy was speaking after 20 ewes from two different sheep flocks in Co. Meath were killed by dogs over the weekend.
It is believed that the sheep were attacked sometime between Friday (January 14) and Saturday (January 15) in the Dunshaughlin area.
Agriland understands that 20 ewes were fatally injured during the incidents and a further 20 were left seriously hurt.
Dennehy appealed to anyone with information in relation to the attacks to contact An Garda Síochána.
The IFA Sheep Committee chair told Agriland that the incidents highlight the need for tougher legislation in this area.
“It isn’t the dogs causing this, it’s the irresponsible owners who are not keeping their dogs under control,” he said.
Dennehy said that the IFA has met with both the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan to ask for stronger deterrents to be put in place.
He explained that Scotland had recently increased fines on owners whose dogs attack livestock to a maximum of £40,000; those found guilty could also face a prison sentence.
The IFA sheep chair said that 241 dog attacks were reported in the Republic of Ireland last year, however he believes that such incidents are “grossly under-reported”.
He added that 198 dogs were seized in 2021 and 82 owners were convicted as a result of their pets being out of control.
Dennehy called for a single database of microchipped dogs to be established; bigger fines; and more funds for dog wardens.
He concluded by stating that the IFA ‘No Dogs Allowed’ campaign, which began last year and applies to all farmland, will continue in 2022.