Fed-up farmer: If the dog on my land is on a lead it’ll still be shot

A sheep farmer fed up with the inaction against dog attacks on flocks has decided to take matters into his own hands, promising to shoot any dogs found on his lands – regardless of whether they are on a lead or not.

Andy “The Bull” McSharry, a sheep farmer from Gleniff – near the Ben Bulben range in Co. Sligo – is patrolling the roads surrounding his farm, “advising” dog walkers to keep their dogs under control.

This action follows a series of dog attacks on sheep surrounding McSharry’s farm. The Sligo farmer spoke to Ocean FM in an interview on the matter.

“The first kill started on October 8 and the second one, right beside me, happened on December 30. A number of sheep on both sides have been killed,” the farmer told Ocean FM’s Niall Delaney.

Farmers at the best of times are finding it hard to survive; it’s not that profitable a job – but certainly when you’ve losses like that it leaves the bank balances not going good for us.

McSharry said that the attacks are the first sheep kills that he has seen happening in the area, adding that in the past 18 months he has noticed a lot of people walking dogs without leads, indicating that this is a key factor in the attacks, with hill walkers “fighting for the right to roam for their dogs”.

The Sligo farmer had previous issues with hillwalkers, having served a prison sentence in Castlerea Prison some 14 years ago for the protracted blocking of hillwalkers accessing his lands in an issue that has since been resolved.

“Since Wednesday I’m on the roads carrying my double-barrel shotgun – legally – and I’m meeting these people and I’m advising them; and I’ll do that for a month or so.

But action is going to be taken against these dogs – particularly the dogs that come onto my land. If the dog is on the lead, the dog will still be shot.

The first day of this action led to a number of dog walkers being ordered to put their animals on leads – except for one woman who did not have a lead with her.

“I told her to pick up her dog – it was about twice the size of a cat – and I told her to put it into her arms and leave it back into her car.

“I watched her put it back into her car and she treated that little dog like it was a piece of china. Well I think my sheep are as good as china as well.”

McSharry noted that the local farmers are not innocent either in failing to control their dogs, adding that he had seen a number of farmers’ dogs wandering the area at night.

“I’m giving those farmers in the Ballintrallig area that I’ve seen – and I’ve walked the roads since that at 12:00am at night – and these dogs are coming out from those people’s houses.

“I’m not going to name them today – but I will name and shame them in a week’s time if they don’t correct the matter.”

The farmer underlined the importance of keeping dogs under control, highlighting a recent incident where, during one dog attack, a mauled ewe tried to force herself into an 18in pipe in an effort to escape the dogs before she died.

McSharry added the financial element also, noting the price of sheep in the first place; how, after mauling incidents they have to pay for the disposal of carcasses and then, if they’re in welfare schemes, they have to replace the sheep to keep numbers up.

“No matter what people think of me, this has happened on both sides of me; sooner or later it’s going to come to me – so I’m giving the caution in time,” McSharry warned.

“I hope I’m lucky; that I can put a stop to it and I’m calling on other farmers to join me on this.”