Galway sheep farmer tells court of ‘heartbreak’ over dog attacks on sheep

By Gordon Deegan

A Galway sheep farmer today (Thursday November 26) told a court that he has been left ‘broken-hearted’ by 10 separate dog attacks on his sheep that have left 68 dead.

At Gort District Court, John Moran was telling Judge Patrick Durcan of the impact of an attack by a Rottweiler and two terriers on his flock at Caherpeak West, Kilcolgan, that left two lambs dead while a third had to be put down due to injuries sustained.

Moran told the court that on February 19 of last year (2019), he came upon the dog attack in a field on his farm where he saw a Rottweiler “just tearing these sheep apart”.

Moran recalled how he phoned his wife for his gun and she brought it up straightaway.

He told the court: “I thought I could get nearer to the dogs to shoot. The two terriers went in one direction and the Rottweiler just went for me. He came at top speed.”

Moran said that he wounded the Rottweiler with his first shot and he fired a second shot but missed.

Multiple dog attacks

In relation to dog attacks on his flock over the years, Moran stated: “I’m just broken hearted. My sheep have been attacked ten times by dogs with the result I have lost 68 sheep.”

The Rottweiler and a terrier involved in the February 2019 attack were put down later that day.

In the case, administrator at NUI Galway and mother of two, 35-year-old Emma Colgan, formerly of Renville Village, Oranmore and now living in Kinvara, pleaded guilty to five separate charges from the incident concerning breaches of the Control of Dogs Act.

Judge Durcan stated that if owner of the Rottweiler – Colgan – pays agreed compensation of €1,016 to John Moran, he would impose a €500 fine on her.

Colgan was at work at the time of the dog attack and Judge Durcan stated: “This is a very serious case and particularly serious in sheep farming territory.”

There is an increased problem throughout the country where sheep farmers are being the subject of huge damage and huge concern by dogs that are not under control.

“I have come across sheep farmers who have given up sheep because of the constant problems that they have,” he said.

Judge Durcan stated that John Moran “has been farming all his life and to have come across lambs torn asunder and sheep torn asunder must have been very upsetting”.

Toll on the whole flock

The judge stated that the attacks would have impacted on the entire flock.

They are sensitive and they become aware of what has happened and that causes huge damage to sheep in a mental and psychological sense.

Judge Durcan stated that dog owners have a huge obligation. He stated: “If you own a dog, you must keep the dog under control.”

Solicitor for Colgan, Sheenagh McCarthy told the court that her client “left for work for NUIG on February 19, 2019 and left the animals with her then-partner and as far as she was concerned, they were inside when she left”.

The solicitor stated that her client has made full admission in relation to ownership.

Moran told the court that Colgan’s then partner, Steve Mahon denied to him after the attack that the dogs were involved on the day. John Moran stated that blood from the gunshot wound on the Rottweiler could be seen.

Sheenagh McCarthy told the court that Colgan “was in a relationship at the time and this incident was the wedge that drove them apart and they are no longer in a relationship”.

She added that the couple have two young children together and Colgan has since moved from Kilcolgan to Kinvara.

Ms. McCarthy stated that Colgan – who was visibly upset during the hearing of the case – “is extremely sorry for what the Morans have had to endure”.

Sergeant Daithi Cronin told the court that Colgan has no previous convictions and Judge Durcan adjourned the case to January 28, 2021 to allowed the monies be paid over.