Hill farmers criticise ‘state inaction’ on dog control

The farm organisation representing hill farmers has said that the inaction by the government in delivering “meaningful” dog control measures is resulting in heavy losses for sheep farmers.

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) claimed that “we are seeing a complete abdication of responsibilities by the powers that be,” resulting in no control of dogs and no “responsibility of irresponsible landowners”.

Colm O’Donnell, the association’s president, referred to a previous statement by the INHFA in 2019, when it noted a “scattered approach” to dog control.

According to O’Donnell, no “concrete action has yet been taken to address this”.

He noted that the control of dogs was under three government departments: the Department of Community and Rural Development deals with licencing; the Department of Agriculture with the microchipping; and the Department of Local Government with the county dog wardens.

“This scattered approach, which continues today, undermines any serious attempt in controlling dogs and leaves our sheep farmers in limbo,” O’Donnell argued.

He again called for a state-backed media campaign to remind dog owners of their responsibilities and the implications for them and the public, including sheep farmers, of not controlling their dogs.

The INHFA president said that the campaign should include television, radio, print and social media.

“There is an urgent need to bring all responsibility for dogs under one government department and by applying the proposals the INHFA have made, we can address the scourge of dog attacks of sheep flocks,” O’Donnell concluded.


This week AgriLand ran a poll asking if there should there higher penalties for allowing dogs to roam.

Over a 24-hour period more than 1,800 of you answered the question in our poll: ‘Should there be higher penalties for dog walkers / dog owners who don’t maintain effectual control of dogs on rural land?’

The results are now in. Click here to see how people responded.