Two government ministers have reminded dog owners of their responsibilities and the vulnerability of sheep to dog attacks, as lambing season approaches.
Ministers Heather Humphreys and Charlie McConalogue say the issue is one of “grave concern” to the farming community and that attacks on sheep are happening far too often in the rural countryside.
The latest figures compiled by local authorities show that there were 240 incidents of Livestock Worrying in 2020 – with a similar number expected when the 2021 returns are completed.
Dog attacks cause serious injury or even death to sheep and can cause grave distress and financial loss for farm families.
Ministers Humphreys and McConalogue visited a sheep farm in Dublin this week, where they announced the start of an awareness campaign that will run over lambing season.
“Attacks on sheep can have a devastating impact on farmers, their businesses and their families,” said Minister Humphreys.
“I’m a dog owner myself and I know the vast majority of dog owners are extremely responsible.
“But the latest figures show that in 2020, there were a concerning 240 incidents of ‘Livestock Worrying’ reported to local authorities.”
Minister Humphreys said that as the lambing season approaches, there are already more and more reports of such incidents in rural Ireland.
‘‘Some 2.5 million lambs will be born on farms all over Ireland this springtime,” she said.
“Sheep flocks are very vulnerable to dog attacks at this critical time, and especially during the night.
“It’s horrific for any farmer to witness the awful devastation, pain and anguish that dogs can cause to sheep.”