Farm Ireland

Friday 15 December 2017

Dog microchipping rules to be reviewed as attacks on sheep continue

Both farmers and dog owners must be clear on their rights.
Both farmers and dog owners must be clear on their rights.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Department of Agriculture is set to under take a review of the legislation surrounding the microchipping of dogs as attacks on sheep continue to be reported by farmers.

Just last week, 16 sheep were killed in a dog attack on a farm in Louth and statistics recently collated by Irish Farmers Association (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.

The Department of Agriculture has confirmed that a review will take place and that it will take account of experience gained through microchipping over the past two years.

Under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, introduced by the then Minister Simon Coveney, all dogs must be microchipped and registered on an authorised database since March 31, 2016.

The Department has said the key focus to date, in the time the system has been operating, has been to educate and promote the highest possible uptake of microchipping by dog owners.

“A number of initiatives, both public and private, have assisted in facilitating increased uptake. Feedback from databases indicates a very high level of compliance,” it said.

Responding to on the review the Department also said that the primary legislation in the area of sheep worrying is the Control of Dogs Act 1986, which it says gives considerable scope to farmer’s to take steps to protect their livestock from dogs and added that this remains unchanged.

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In particular, it said Section 23 of the Act allows a person as a legitimate action to shoot a dog “when it was worrying, or was about to worry, livestock and that there were no other reasonable means of ending or preventing the worrying”. 

IFA National Sheep Chairman John Lynskey issued a stark warning to all dog owners that they are fully responsible for ensuring that their pets are under control at all times.

“They are liable for any losses as a result of dog attacks, with serious financial and legal consequences.

He said farmers have a right to protect their sheep flock and can shoot a dog worrying, or about to worry their flock.

John Lynskey said marauding dogs can inflict horrendous damage on a sheep flock.

“A number of dog attacks have been highlighted in recent weeks across the country, where major financial losses have been incurred

“Unfortunately, I am taking calls on a frequent basis from sheep farmers around the country who have suffered attacks. 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.

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