All dogs must be microchipped following new laws that come into force on 1 April.

The Uplands Council in Co Wicklow said “it is expected that only about one third of the dogs in Wicklow are properly licensed. There are currently only two dog wardens in the county and they cannot possibly enforce current legislation.”

Wicklow and the southeast have had numerous savage dog attacks on sheep this year, leaving 15 dead in one case in Wicklow.

Amid fears the new laws will not be enforced, there have been calls for a group compromising of land owners, gardaí and the local authority.

The Cheviot Sheep Owners in Co Wicklow have also advised dog owners to keep dogs “away from areas where there are livestock even if on a lead.

“Sheep and lambs are very vulnerable to dog activity. Being chased by a dog causes a very high level of stress among sheep and lambs and can easily result in their death. A farmer has the right to shoot a dog that they consider is worrying livestock on that farmer’s land.”

Dog control in Wicklow is a particular issue due to the high number of sheep in the area and the increased recreational use of the hills.

Dogs loose on hills may cause anxiety to sheep causing them to be displaced. Other threats include early abortion of lambs and direct attacks on sheep, in many cases leading to death.

Brian Dunne, coordinator of Wicklow Uplands Council, also added that while walkers are welcome in the county, you should “leave dogs at home if you intend to access land where livestock are present”.

The law now requires that all dogs must be under effectual control, meaning that your dog will come at your command. If not, your dog must be kept on a lead. Dogs should never be off a leash when close to livestock and again dog owners should be aware of where their dogs are at all times.

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