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HomeFarming News‘Dog owners must remember that even the most gentle family pet can...
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘Dog owners must remember that even the most gentle family pet can kill’

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has relaunched a 1984 Department of Agriculture advertisement featuring Bonzo the dog.

The minister said the advertisement’s theme of sheep worrying by dogs remains as relevant today as back in the 1980s.

4,000 killed/injured annually 

The Minister stated, “Sheep worrying brings immense and unnecessary stress upon farmers.”

“Each year, dogs that are allowed to run free are a menace to sheep. Uncontrolled pets can decimate a flock, with reports suggesting that up to 4,000 sheep are killed or seriously injured in dog attacks yearly.”

Pet owners are responsible for ensuring that their dogs are under control at all times, he stressed.

The minister pointed out that sheep worrying can occur at any time of the year, but it is hugely problematic when it happens during the lambing season.

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Up to 2.5 million lambs are born across the country every spring. He noted that sheep flocks are very vulnerable to dog attacks at this critical time, and especially during the night.

“Dog owners must remember that even the most gentle family pet can kill or maim sheep and lambs if allowed to roam. Never let your dog out unsupervised, especially at night.”

Concluding, McConalogue urged those living in or near rural areas to be extra vigilant.

[Ad featuring Bonzo the dog ]

What to do if your sheep are attacked by dogs

Furthermore, the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has issued a set of guidelines to be used should a farmer encounter an attack by a dog on his/her flock of sheep.

The 10-point plan is a “simple, easy-to-follow” protocol aimed at helping sheep farmers who encounter a dog attack on their flock.

  • Stop the dogs – apprehend the marauding dog or dogs; and look after the welfare of the sheep;
  • Be aware of the law;
  • Inform An Garda Síochána;
  • Ring the dog warden;
  • Contact the IFA;
  • Ring the vet;
  • Take a picture/keep evidence;
  • Seek a valuation of losses;
  • Inform your insurance company;
  • Tell your neighbours.
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