McCormack highlights ‘underlying reality’ in recent dog rescue story

The president of one of the country’s main farm organisations has raised concerns over the reaction to a story that appeared in national media recently.

National media outlets reported last week that a dog had been found and reunited with its owners after becoming lost in the Wicklow Mountains. The dog had gone missing after chasing after a deer, RTÉ reported.

Speaking over the weekend, Pat McCormack, the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), argued that it would be “unfortunate” if the public were to treat the account as a “feel-good” story, and “not understand the threat that unsupervised dogs represent to both wildlife and farmers’ stocks”.

McCormack noted (while saying he did not want to appear “meanspirited”) that it was “vitally important that the underlying reality of dogs escaping walkers and owners to worry sheep flocks and other livestock was at least acknowledged”.

“We’re very conscious of people’s need to get out and go for walks to escape the sense of confinement – and we’re also very understanding of their desire to bring family dogs with them – but we have to say that we would have reservations about the way this latest story is being presented,” he remarked.

The ICMSA president stressed: “Dogs breaking away and crisscrossing the countryside or hills often have very serious consequences for local farmers – particularly sheep farmers.

Farm organisations and local media are inundated at this time of year with reports of sheep kills and livestock being attacked and chased by dogs, so it’s very important that the message goes out that dogs being taken on walks into areas where livestock might be grazing should always be controlled.

“Deer will outrun chasing dogs – sheep and cattle just won’t,” he added.

McCormack concluded: “Dead or injured livestock rarely make the main new stories but they have a hugely significant impact on the lives of their owners as well as causing huge stress to the animals concerned.”