Launching IFA’s 2023 campaign on dog control in Co Offaly today, IFA President Tim Cullinan has criticised the failure of the authorities to tackle what is a growing problem on farms.
IFA began the ‘No Dogs Allowed’ campaign in 2021. “Unfortunately, the situation has worsened over the last two years, with sheep farmers dreading the prospect of a call to say there has been an attack on their flock,” he said.
Tim Cullinan said those who want a dog as part of their family will have to accept the responsibilities that go with ownership.
The IFA ‘No Dogs Allowed’ campaign will continue until we see meaningful action from Ministers McConalogue and Humphreys in this area.
“The level of sanctions that can be applied do not reflect the savagery and trauma these uncontrolled dogs are causing. The absence of a centralised database to identify ownership and those responsible for the dogs, and the lack of enforcement of microchipping, are all contributing to this persistent and escalating problem,” he said.
The latest report on the implementation of the Control of Dogs Act shows only 192,348 are licensed out of an estimated 800,000 in the country. This leaves an estimated 607,652, or 76% of dogs, unidentified.
He said it is not acceptable to farmers, who provide full traceability for the seven million cattle and the four million sheep under their care from birth, and where every animal is individually tagged and traceable, that a similar system is not in place for dog owners.
IFA Sheep Chairman Kevin Comiskey said all dog owners should take heed that they are fully liable for all damage and suffering caused to farmers and their sheep by their dogs.
“The irresponsible behaviour of some dog owners continues to lead to devastating consequences on farms and must stop,” he said.
He said this is a critical time of year on sheep farms as lambing gets underway. Dog attacks are causing unimaginable suffering for sheep and lambs and huge economic losses for farmers.
He said dogs should not be allowed in or near farmland and he urged all dog owners to behave in a responsible way and adhere to this.
IFA has clearly and consistently set out what needs to be done to the Ministers with responsibilities for this area, include;
The key areas that must be addressed include:
1. A single National Database for all dogs correlating licensing and microchipping and identifying the person responsible for the dog, but at a minimum alignment of the existing licensing and microchipping records to one central access point.
2. Full enforcement of microchipping and licensing obligations of dog owners for all dogs.
3. Stronger powers of enforcement for dog wardens and Gardaí and clarity on these powers.
4. Increased on the spot fines for failing to comply with the microchipping and licensing requirements.
5. Increased sanctions and on the spot fines for failing to have the dog under control.
6. Significant on the spot fines for dogs found worrying livestock.
7. Legal requirement for dogs to be microchipped and licensed and identified on the NVPS (National Veterinary Prescribing System) prior to any veterinary treatment or prescribing of medicines by veterinary practitioners.
8. Authority to apply the legislative obligations to dogs in border regions owned by persons not resident in the state.
Kevin Comiskey said the Ministers must deliver the strengthened legislation as a matter of urgency and have it in effect before year end.