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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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Sheep worrying: ‘Keep dogs in at night if you live near or on farmland’

Louth County Council has issued a reminder to dog owners as lambing season approaches.

The body has urged dog owners to be aware of their responsibilities and the potential risk of harm to sheep during lambing season.

The local authority’s warning comes after it revealed that it investigated 14 incidents of sheep worrying in the last year.

A spokesperson in a statement to That’s Farming, highlighted that dog owners have legal responsibilities under the Control of Dogs Act 1986, as amended, which provides for the protection of livestock from worrying by dogs, and where dogs are found to worry livestock this can result in the owner committing and being found guilty of an offence which can include fines and/or prison.

When outside the home, dog owners must legally ensure that their dogs are under ‘effectual’ control at all times.

Sheep worrying

The spokesperson added:

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“When visiting commonage or farm areas, all dog owners should observe and respect local signage around entry and leads.

“It is recommended that dogs are left at home if accessing land where livestock are present or close by during the lambing season.”

Louth County Council has asked dog owners and anyone walking or exercising dogs to be aware that the presence of dogs, even with playful intent, can cause “great anxiety” within a flock of sheep.

“In lambing season, it is the main cause of stillbirths and miscarriages, which can occur a number of days after contact with dogs.”

“Owners are asked to be vigilant and to ensure they know where dogs under their care are at all times, as attacks often occur at night.”

Vet comments

Garret Shine, Louth county veterinarian, explained that in 2022 Louth County Council was called out to investigated 14 incidences of sheep worrying.

He warned that the penalties “can be very significant for both the owner and the dog, and compensation due to the farmer can be high”.

“Nobody wants to see any animal unnecessarily hurt or killed, be they a farm animal or family pet.”

“During the lambing season, in particular, the message to dog owners is to keep your dogs under control and keep them in at night if you live near or on farmland.”

“The family pet can become a completely different animal when in a pack resulting in devastating consequences for all.”

He added that all dogs, which are apprehended, will be scanned for microchip and will be impounded.

Please report wandering dogs and suspicious sights to the Louth County Council Dog Warden section at  042-9324345 or by email on [email protected]

Finally, ensure that your dog(s) are registered and microchipped and that a current licence is in place for each of them – this is now a legal requirement for ALL dogs, the statement reads.

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