Urgent action needed to curb dog attacks on sheep warn farm leaders
Centralised control of the microchipping database for dogs needs to be handed over to the Department of Agriculture, farm organisations have demanded following a spate of dog attacks on sheep flocks around the country.
In one of the worst attacks for a number of years, three sheep were killed and 65 had to be put down after two dogs got access to a sheep shed outside Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.
A number of other attacks have been reported around the country.
IFA sheep chairman Sean Dennehy said urgent action was now needed from Agriculture Minister Michael Creed on dog controls.
"How many more sheep flocks have to be savaged before action is taken?" Mr Dennehy asked.
He called on Minister Creed to take control of the microchipping database for dogs and insisted that one centralised database in the Department of Agriculture was required.
In response to a recent query from the Farming Independent, the Department was unable to quantify how many dogs in the country were microchipped, despite compulsory microchipping being introduced in 2015.
The Department said the information was held by four private databases run by Animark, Fido, the Kennel Club and Microdog.ie.
Mr Dennehy described the current microchipping system as "totally ineffective".
"It's a joke that we don't even know how many dogs are microchipped, let alone use the database to chase down irresponsible dog owners where their dog may have savaged a sheep flock in an attack," he said.
He said it was incredible that seven million cattle are double- tagged and all movements are kept on a central database in the Department but the ownership of dogs cannot be similarly controlled.
The INHFA called on the Department to immediately initiate a national awareness campaign around dog control, and in particular concerns around the lambing season.
The hill farmer group insisted that all issues relating to dog control had to be brought under one Government department.
"The Department of Agriculture is our preferred option," a spokesperson said.
Currently the Department of Agriculture is responsible for microchipping dogs, while the Department of Community and Rural Development is responsible for issuing dog licenses.
"Whoever takes control needs to start by establishing how many dogs are in the country and who owns them," Mr Dennehy added.
"After this we can establish what dogs are microchipped and put in place a plan to ensure full compliance, which would also involve an up-to-date database of all dogs."
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