‘Marauding dogs can inflict horrendous damage on a sheep flock’

Marauding dogs can inflict horrendous damage on a sheep flock, IFA National Sheep Chairman John Lynskey has said.

With the country’s 30,000 sheep farmers preparing to lamb down 2.5m ewes over the coming three months, this is a very busy and anxious time for farmers, he said.

There is clear evidence that flocks are more vulnerable to dog attacks at this time of year, he added.

Lynskey was speaking following a number of dog attacks in recent weeks, where major financial losses have been incurred.

“In the last week there was a very severe case in Co. Tipperary and a wild dog in Co. Wexford, which is still on the loose, has inflicted serious damage on a number of sheep flocks.

Unfortunately, I am taking calls on a frequent basis from sheep farmers around the country who have suffered attacks.

“There are far too many dog owners not taking the responsibility that goes with owning a pet. Dog owners have an obligation to have their dog under control at all times.

“Based on the feedback IFA gets from farmers who have had to deal with a dog attack on their flock, one of the biggest problems is the lack of information on what they should do, who they should contact and where can they get help,” he said.

A Warning to All Dog Owners

Lynskey issued a warning to all dog owners that they are fully responsible for ensuring that their pets are under control at all times.

Dog owners are liable for any losses as a result of attacks, with serious financial and legal consequences, Lynskey said.

Farmers also have a right to protect their animals and can shoot a dog worrying, or about to worry, their flock, he added.

Statistics collected by the IFA indicate that the problem of dog attacks on sheep may be in the region of 300-400 incidents per year, with between 3,000-4,000 sheep injured or killed during these attacks.

Data on dog attacks gathered by the IFA also shows an average of 11 sheep are killed or injured per attack.

The IFA has developed a protocol to help farmers who encounter a dog attack on their sheep flock and it covers that actions farmers should take following a dog attack.