‘Next government must get serious on dog attacks’

The issue of dog attacks on sheep has been highlighted as a major problem among sheep farmers for any future government to take account of.

Sean Dennehy, the chairperson of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA) National Sheep Committee, called on the future government to provide a properly funded dog warden service in every county, as well as a central database of microchipped dogs that would be monitored by a government department.

“People who take dogs as pets have to take on the responsibility that goes with that. If dog owners saw the destruction from an attack, they would have a very different mindset,” Dennehy said.

Unfortunately, there are too many people who casually take on a family pet, particularly for Christmas, but they are not prepared to devote the time to responsible dog ownership.

The IFA sheep chairperson continued: “Marauding dogs are a nationwide problem for sheep farmers. Dog owners can be held responsible for any losses from attacks on sheep, with serious financial and legal consequences.

“Farmers have a right to protect their sheep flock and can shoot a dog worrying, or about to worry, their flock,” he highlighted.

Dennehy reminded dog owners – including other farmers – that it is a legal requirement to microchip and register dogs.

Dennehy also highlighted the lack of information among farmers on how to deal with the aftermath of a dog attack.

In light of this, the IFA has developed a protocol on what to do if your sheep are attacked.

The 10-step protocol is as follows:
  • Stop the dogs;
  • Follow the law;
  • Inform the Gardaí;
  • Ring the dog warden;
  • Contact the IFA;
  • Ring the vet;
  • Keep the evidence/take a picture;
  • Get a valuation of losses;
  • Inform your insurance company;
  • Tell your sheep farming neighbours.