Farmer sleeping out with his flock after second dog attack in two weeks

Stock image.
Stock image.
Louth IFA Rural Development chairman Matthew McGreehan, who has also lost sheep in a dog attack, said, “dog owners do not realise the damage their dogs can do in a short space of time". Picture: Ciara Wilkinson

Elaine Keogh

A farmer is preparing to stay overnight with his flock of sheep until dogs that have attacked them twice in the last two weeks, are caught.

Damien Hanratty from Togher, county Louth said two weeks ago, as he and his family prepared to go out for a Christmas meal, he found out they had been attacked by dogs.

Now after the second attack, he says, “I am going to stay out in the field. I have no other grazing for the sheep and that is their Winter ground.”

Two weeks ago, he fenced the field, which he uses every Winter for his sheep, and he put 50 sheep into it.

“The following morning at 10 o’clock I got a phone call to say your sheep are everywhere, they are scattered all over the place.  I went out and it was quite obvious it was a dog attack.”

“There was wool everywhere, there was only 6 sheep still left in the field and one of them was mauled. The wool was totally stripped off her.”

Sheep farmers are under siege from dogs who are attacking their flocks according to the Louth IFA Rural development chairman Matthew McGreehan. Pictured is one of Mr McGreehan’s sheep that was killed by a dog. Picture Ciara Wilkinson
Sheep farmers are under siege from dogs who are attacking their flocks according to the Louth IFA Rural development chairman Matthew McGreehan. Pictured is one of Mr McGreehan’s sheep that was killed by a dog. Picture Ciara Wilkinson

“The rest had scattered in three different directions across other people’s land and some of them were mauled as well with wool stripped off them, tears and scraps on them.”

He said there were signs they had been scrapped by teeth but there were no actual bites or lumps taken from them. 

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He said he found “the tracks of two dogs, a big dog and a medium sized dog.”

Four sheep were injured and one is still missing from that attack.

He returned the sheep to the field on Saturday and this/yesterday morning (Monday) he found they had been chased from the field and were all at the end of a laneway leading to a farmyard gate.

He said the sheep could not go any further and, “there are dog marks of where they trapped and kept them in the corner.”

They were huddled together and “stressed.”  One has a hurt leg and while it may not appear as bad as the first attack, he will not know the complete effect of the attacks until lambing time comes around in April.

“They could lose their lambs, I expect to see abortions. You could have difficulty in lambing.”

He said the psychological impact means that they are terrified of all dogs.  “You couldn’t even bring a sheepdog out to work with these now, they would just run blindly out of pure fear.”

He has nowhere else to put the sheep and said he is preparing to stay with them at night until the dogs are caught.

"I have nowhere else to put these sheep, all the grass has been grazed on the land I have taken and on my own land and I intend sleeping out tonight tonight with the gun.”

He suspects the same dogs were involved and he has spoken to the Louth county council dog warden.

Mr Hanratty is prepared to sleep out with the sheep until the dogs in question are caught and he is asking for anyone who owns dogs, not just in Louth, to “keep your dogs under control. Don’t let them out of your sight, your house. It only takes five minutes for them to do a massive amount of damage.”

Louth IFA Rural Development chairman Matthew McGreehan, who has also lost sheep in a dog attack, said, “dog owners do not realise the damage their dogs can do in a short space of time. Even if they only let them out for a short time, they can wander off and do a lot of damage in 10 or 20 minutes.”

Online Editors


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