Farmers' plea to dog owners - 'The last thing farmers need is for their sheep to be killed by someone's "friendly" pet'

Myles Buchanan and Margaret Donnelly

Sheep farmers are facing an increasingly difficult lambing season with a notable increase in dog attacks in many parts of the country compared to previous years.

The Wicklow People reports that three sheep were killed on a farm in Rathdrum recently, with a further eight animals injured.

Meanwhile, an Alsatian spotted chasing sheep in Roundwood on Monday was captured. The dog's owner has since been identified and the gardaí are investigating the matter.

Chris Hill, Chairman of the Wicklow branch of the IFA, said farmers are being put under increasing pressure by loose dogs which are attacking sheep stock, with farmers already having to cope with one of the poorest springs on record.

"This is an ongoing story but unfortunately some dog owners remain careless and negligent with their pets. There is a huge onus and responsibility on pet owners and they should know where their animals are at all times," said Mr Hill.

"This has been one of the worst springs ever encountered, weather-wise. The last thing farmers need is for their sheep to be killed by someone's "friendly" pet," he said.

Three sheep were found dead in the Rathdrum area on the morning of Monday, March 26, having been attacked overnight. Another eight sheep were found with severe wounds.

"Lambing season is such an important time of the year for farmers. If they lose their lambs then they have nothing to sell. If they lose some ewes, then they are suffering a double loss," said Mr Hill.

"There can also be difficulties in birth with the sheep traumatised by the attack. Any dog attack can have very far reaching consequences for a farmer. Even if a dog is just chasing sheep, it can still have disastrous results. The ewes may mislay their young lambs in the chase and then can't find them, resulting in the lambs dying of hunger.

"This is the busiest time of the year for sheep farmers. They have already suffered because of the weather so the last thing they need is further disruption. There has definitely been an increase in dog attacks this year."

Earlier this year, a sheep farmer in Enniskerry lost 15 of his flock after they were attacked by a husky dog which managed to break free from its harness while being walked.

Over 40 lambs were lost by two neighbouring farmers after they were attacked by dogs in South Roscommon in recent weeks.

The Westmeath Independent reported that Gardai believe several dogs attacked sheep in neighbouring fields in the Kellybrook and Smithboro townlands, close to Knockcroghery.

The paper says that one farmer discovered 40 dead lambs in the field, while his neighbour found another four deceased on his farm and it's understood that a number of sheep were missing in the days after the attack.

It's thought several marauding dogs may have been involved in the horrific attack and none were found after the attack.

Meanwhile, Gardai are understood to be conducting house to house calls in the Knockcroghery area in a bid to raise awareness with householders about the need for dog control, particularly, during the busy lambing season, the paper reports.

Sgt Adrian Queeney from Roscommon Garda Station told the paper that the farmers have incurred big losses as a result of this attack running into several thousand euro, and he appealed to local dog owners to keep them under control and not to let them roam freely near farmland.

Wicklow People