The Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys is looking to increase the fine for livestock worrying following a recent spate of dog attacks.

The current fine of €2,500 is likely to be increased as the minister’s officials are currently working on proposals around updating the existing legislation, following a review of it at the minister’s request.

In a statement, the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD), said:

“Minister Humphreys is aware of concerns in relation to dog attacks on livestock and wishes to increase the amount payable for Livestock Worrying fines. Her officials are currently working on proposals in this regard.”

Under the Control of Dogs Acts, local authorities have responsibility for operating and managing dog control and licensing services. ‘Livestock worrying’ is generally prosecuted under section 9 of the 1986 Control of Dogs Act.

Recent dog attacks

There have been a number of serious dog attacks on sheep of late, which have prompted a call for stronger enforcement of the dog control regulations from farmers across the country.

Last week (May 6), a farmer lost four ewes and six lambs as a result of an incident involving two stray dogs on his farm in Ardagh, Co. Limerick. The farmer, who keeps 160 sheep across three fields, said he is now concerned for the welfare of the rest of his flock.

Noel Woulfe also experienced a dog attack last October in which he lost eight ewes, and he has since appealed to dog owners to be more responsible for their pets.

Another sheep farmer in Co. Tipperary has also been issuing the call for greater enforcement of dog control legislation after 27 of his ewes were killed in a dog attack on April 26, following a long and busy lambing season.

The farmer Michael Coyne, who farms with his brother David in Newcastle, said it was the 10th dog attack he has experienced

Livestock worrying statistics

Each year, the DRCD publishes annual statistics on a range of dog control responsibilities of local authorities. The latest figures available show that there were 241 livestock worrying incidents in 2020.

Cork County experienced the highest number of incidents, with 82 dog attacks reported that year.

This was followed by Mayo with 20 attacks, Kerry where there was 15, and Waterford, where there were 12 reported attacks. There were only four local authorities that experienced no such incidents, these were Fingal; Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown; Dublin city; and Galway city.

The 2021 dog control statistics are due to be published later this year.