Farmers slam 'scattered' approach on dog control

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Farmers have slammed what they describe as a "scattered approach" to dog control by government departments.

It comes as sheep farmers call for more protection for vulnerable lambs from marauding dogs.

The INHFA pointed out that the current dog control regime involved two government departments, local authorities and private companies.

INHFA president Colm O'Donnell said sheep farmers were being "left in limbo" by the Government's failure to take "decisive action" on the matter. He said a single department had to be responsible for dog control.

Enquiries made by the Farming Independent confirmed that dog licences are issued by the Department of Community and Rural Development, while the microchipping of dogs is the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture.

However, when asked how many dogs in the country were microchipped, the Department of Agriculture was unable to supply the figures as the data is held by private companies. Compulsory microchipping of dogs was introduced in 2015.

"There are four database organisations operating under the regulations; Animark, Fido, Irish Kennel Club and MicroDogID. Data in respect of the numbers of dogs [that are] microchipped is held by the four databases," a Department of Agriculture spokesperson explained.

The Department of Community and Rural Development confirmed that 200,828 dog licences were issued by local authorities in 2017. It is said it had no data on the number of unlicensed dogs. The INHFA has insisted that responsibility for dog control should be centralised in the Department of Agriculture, claiming that the current regime led to an absence of accountability.

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One department

"By having everything under one department ensures the clear advantage of cross-referencing what dogs are licensed and what dogs are microchipped, while also ensuring the resources are there to follow dog owners who haven't done either," Mr O'Donnell maintained.

"Bringing all issues in relation to dog control under the Department of Agriculture is the best way to ensure dogs are controlled instead of running amok and killing sheep," he added.

IFA sheep chairman Sean Dennehy warned dog owners that they would be held responsible for any financial losses suffered by farmers as a result of attacks on their sheep flocks this spring.

"Dog owners can be held responsible for any losses resulting from dog attacks on sheep, with serious financial and legal consequences. Farmers have a right to protect their sheep flock and can shoot a dog worrying or about to worry their flock," Mr Dennehy said.

"In recent weeks, we have reports of attacks from all over the country. In Co Louth alone we have reports of 42 sheep killed in the last two months," he pointed out.

Statistics collated by IFA indicate that the problem of dog attacks on sheep may be in the order of 300 to 400 attacks per annum, with 3,000 to 4,000 sheep injured and killed.

Data on dog attacks gathered by the IFA shows an average of 11 sheep killed or injured per attack.

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