IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman John Lynskey said the move by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to microchip all dogs has an important role to play in terms of responsible dog ownership. He said a central database would make this initiative much more effective.
The IFA Sheep Chairman said microchipping can play a major role in preventing attacks on sheep flocks and the resulting horrific consequences. However, microchipping must be matched with a comprehensive central database and effective controls.
John Lynskey said costs must be kept to a minimum and he called on the Minister to ensure that there would be no increase in costs to dog owners. He said the overall costs to dog owners of microchipping and dog licences must not increase.
John Lynskey said IFA has a strong media campaign on attacks on sheep flocks and the need for responsible dog ownership in order to prevent and reduce dog attacks on sheep flocks. “Farmers are in the middle of the peak lambing season, when sheep flocks are particularly vulnerable to dog attacks, especially during the night.”
He said the IFA message to dog owners about their responsibilities is very clear and strong. Dog owners can be held liable if their dog is involved in an attack on sheep.
John Lynskey said a dog attack on a sheep flock is extremely stressful and can inflict savage injuries, often fatal. He said, “Aside from the economic losses, for which dog owners can be held liable, the welfare implications for the flock can be very severe and long-lasting. Sheep never recover fully from a dog attack and can suffer ongoing difficulties, including reproduction problems and increased nervousness affecting their general health.”
The IFA sheep farmers’ leader said under the Control of Dogs Act, it states very clearly: “If a dog worries livestock, the owner or any other person in charge of the dog shall be guilty of an offence unless it is established that at the material time the dog worried the livestock for the purpose of removing trespassing livestock and that having regard to all the circumstances the action was reasonable and necessary.” John Lynskey also pointed out that under the law farmers are entitled to take whatever steps are necessary to protect their sheep flocks against marauding dogs on their lands.
Up to 2.5m lambs will be born on 30,000 sheep farms across the country this spring.