Farm Ireland

Saturday 20 January 2018

Farm leaders call for tighter dog controls

Gus and Olive Martyn with some of the lambs and ewes killed in a weekend attack by marauding dogs at their Dunderry farm. Photo: Seamus Farrelly
Gus and Olive Martyn with some of the lambs and ewes killed in a weekend attack by marauding dogs at their Dunderry farm. Photo: Seamus Farrelly
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Compulsory micro-chipping of dogs has been welcomed by the farm organisations.

Both the IFA and ICSA said the move was a positive development but had to be matched by a comprehensive central database of dog ownership and more effective dog controls.

ICSA sheep committee chairman John Brooks said the policy would help curtail sheep attacks which were an ongoing and costly problem for sheep farmers.

"Just this week we saw a situation where eight dogs were shot in Clare, having attacked a flock of sheep. No farmer wants to come out to see several ewes ripped apart by marauding dogs," Mr Brooks said.

However, the ICSA official warned that microchipping alone won't solve the problem of sheep attacks and he said "follow-up" measures would be vital.

"I'm glad to see the mention of a database, but we'd like more detail on how the regulations are going to be applied and also what the sanctions will be for those who don't comply," Mr Brooks said.

These sentiments were echoed by John Lynskey of the IFA.

He said the microchipping programme had an important role to play in promoting what he described as "responsible dog ownership."

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However, he stressed that the dog owners should also be aware that they can be held liable if their dog was involved in an attack on sheep.

Announcing the microchipping programme, Minister Coveney said the measure would have a number of positive benefits.

"It will provide a basic tool to protect the welfare of all dogs and assist with speedily uniting stray dogs with their owners and will act as a deterrent for those who abandon dogs and assist in identifying marauding dogs and those that pose a threat to livestock or people."


The minister pointed out that where dogs were already microchipped the new regulations will require that the microchip used be ISO compliant and that the microchip details were registered on a database.

Concerns have been raised regarding the cost of the measure for dog owners.

However, Minister Coveney said there were provisions for microchipping and registration to be carried out in particular circumstances by trained people other than veterinarians.

Furthermore, there are initiatives which help to subsidise microchipping for those of restricted means.

It is estimated that there are between 300 and 400 sheep attacks each year, with between 3,000 and 4,000 sheep injured and killed.

The immediate cost of these attacks would be in the region of €450,000 but farmers point out that the hidden costs to sheep owners are significantly greater.

"Apart from the sheep that die, there are knock on effects on other ewes in the flock. This is especially so when ewes are heavily in-lamb. An attack by dogs will typically lead to all kinds of knock-on complications for the surviving ewes," Mr Brooks explained.

Microchipping becomes compulsory by March 2016.

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