‘Do you know where your dog is?’ This is the direct question IFA National Sheep Chairman James Murphy has raised as part of a new public awareness campaign aimed at highlighting the responsibility of dog owners and the vulnerability of sheep flocks to dog attacks at this time of year.
To coincide with the beginning of the main lambing season on the first day of Spring, James Murphy said, “The IFA campaign is aimed at dog owners and is reminding them of their responsibilities to ensure they are in control of their pets at all times.”
The IFA National Sheep Chairman said, “Up to 2.5m lambs will be born on 30,000 sheep farms across the country over the next three months. Sheep flocks are very vulnerable to dog attacks at this critical time, and especially during the night.”
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.”
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.
The IFA campaign, which includes a nationwide radio advertising campaign over the next week, is supported by IFA Member Services.