IFA sheep chairman, Sean Dennehy, has called on the Minister for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, to immediately co-ordinate a national task force to tackle the ongoing issue of dog attacks on farms.
He made the call following several fatal attacks on sheep flocks around the country in recent days.
Dennehy previously stated that people who are are considering a dog for Christmas should think carefully about the decision.
He stressed that the biggest problem with dog attacks on sheep is the absence of responsibility among some dog owners.
Before Christmas, a Waterford-based farmer has lost almost one-quarter of his 100-strong sheep flock in a vicious dog attack. He told That’s Farming that the cost is in excess of €5,000.
‘Three instances of dog attacks’
“The stories I have heard are horrific. In one instance, an animal was decapitated by a dog. The Government must act to hold irresponsible dog owners to account.” Dennehy explained.
“We met the Minister before Christmas and raised the enforcement of existing regulations on dog control, including microchipping.”
“He agreed to initiate engagements with the relevant agencies to strengthen controls for dog ownership and better enforcement of existing obligations on owners. This must happen immediately.”
“We are only in the first week of 2021, and I know of at least three instances of dog attacks. There are far too many dog owners not taking the responsibility that goes with owning a pet. Dog owners must have their dog under control at all times.”
Ewes particularly vulnerable
Dennehy said dog attacks remain a significant problem and can devastate the farmers whose sheep suffer an attack.
There are 2.6m ewes on 34,000 sheep farms around the country. “They will be lambing down in the coming months, so they are particularly vulnerable at this time of year,” he said.
The IFA sheep chairman warned dog owners, who do not have their dog under control at all times, must realise they can be held responsible for such attacks, with severe financial and legal consequences.
Dennehy said there must be better enforcement of existing legislation around dog ownership; more stringent fines for dog attacks; increased funding for the dog warden service; and a single database for microchipped dogs.
Dennehy concluded by stressing that farm animals are fully traceable, and dogs should also be.