In a joint public awareness campaign with the Department of the Environment launched today (Mon), the IFA is highlighting the responsibility of dog owners to be in control of their dogs at all times, in order to prevent attacks on sheep flocks and the resulting horrific consequences.
Timed to coincide with the main lambing season, IFA National Sheep Chairman James Murphy said, “Farmers are in the middle of the peak lambing season, when sheep flocks are particularly vulnerable to dog attacks, especially during the night.”
In a nationwide radio advertising campaign, sponsored by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and IFA Member Services, there is a very clear and strong message to dog owners about their responsibilities, and how they could be held liable if their dog is involved in an attack on sheep. In the radio ad, James Murphy says there can be no excuses: ‘Your Dog…Your Responsibility’.
The IFA National Sheep Chairman welcomed the support from the Government and Environment Minister Phil Hogan in the defence of sheep flocks against dog attacks. The Minister said, “We are all aware of the awful dog attacks on sheep. This situation is just not acceptable. Dog Wardens and Gardaí are doing what they can, but they cannot be in every part of the country at all times. The solution rests fairly and squarely with dog owners.”
James Murphy 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.”
Statistics compiled from calls to the IFA hotline in the last year show that sheep flocks in counties Laois, Roscommon, Meath, Wexford and Donegal have suffered most from dog attacks. (See attached table).
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.” James Murphy 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 by the end of the lambing season.