There were 494 livestock worrying incidents reported to county councils in 2020 and 2019.

In 2020, the latest figures available, a total of 241 incidents of livestock worrying were reported.

In the year previous, 2019, some 253 livestock worrying incidents were reported.

Under the Control of Dogs Acts, local authorities have responsibility for operating and managing dog control and licensing services in their administrative areas.

The latest data available from the Department of Rural and Community Affairs is for 2020 and shows that there were 82 livestock worrying incidents in Cork in 2020.

There were 20 livestock worrying incidents in Mayo, 15 in Kerry, 12 in Waterford, 11 in Leitrim and 10 in Tipperary.

Sheep worrying

Sheep worrying is the most common type of livestock worrying.

Earlier this year, the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) reminded dog owners that sheep farmers are entitled under law to defend their livestock and if their flock is threatened, the law allows them to shoot the dog.

The IFA has advised that is very important that sheep farmers are aware of, and follow the law, in the context of protecting their sheep flock against marauding dogs.

The law

Under the 1986 Control of Dogs Act, it states under the section – Defence in action for damages for shooting a dog: (1) It shall be a defence to any action for damages against a person for the shooting of a dog, or to any charge arising out of the shooting of a dog, if the defendant proves that-

(a) the dog was shot when it was worrying, or was about to worry, livestock and that there were no other reasonable means of ending or preventing the worrying; or

(b) (i) the dog was a stray dog which was in the vicinity of a place where livestock had been injured or killed, and (ii) the defendant reasonably believed that the dog had been involved in the injury or killing, and (iii) there were no practicable means of seizing the dog or ascertaining to whom it belonged; and

(c) he/she was the person in charge of the livestock; and

(d) he/she notified within 48 hours the member in charge at the nearest garda station to the place where the dog was shot of the incident.

(2) The provisions of subsection (1) (a) and subsection (1) (b) (i) and (iii) of this section shall be deemed to have been satisfied if the defendant believed that those provisions had been satisfied and he had reasonable grounds for that belief.

IFA plan

The IFA has a 10-point plan to follow in the event of a dog attacking your sheep. You can read it here.