IN the wake of the latest series of savage dog attacks on sheep flocks, IFA National Sheep Chairman James Murphy insisted dog owners must take greater responsibility for their pets.
"There are far too many dog owners not taking the responsibility that goes with owning a pet. Dog owners have an obligation to have their dog under control at all times," he said.
With the lambing season now getting underway in earnest, sheep flocks are very vulnerable to dog attacks, especially during the night."
Mr Murphy said a dog attack on a sheep flock is extremely stressful to the animals and can inflict savage injuries, which are often fatal.
"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," he said.
He added that the Control of Dogs Act places a clear responsibility on dog owners.
The Act states: "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."
Murphy pointed out that under the law farmers are also entitled to take whatever steps are necessary to protect their sheep flocks against marauding dogs on their lands.