The easing of workplace restrictions under the Government’s reopening roadmap will exacerbate the problem of dog attacks on livestock, the IFA has claimed.

The farm organisation's sheep chair, Sean Dennehy has said that as those who have been working remotely return to the workplace, dogs will be left unsupervised for longer, increasing the risk of dogs attacking cattle or sheep.

According to Dennehy, farmers have become increasingly concerned by the announcement of the easing of workplace restrictions.

Dog ownership

Dennehy stated that dog ownership has increased since the introduction of restrictions last year and that some new pet owners may be unaware of their obligations in looking after a dog.

The example of a recent dog attack in Co Wicklow that left at least 16 sheep dead was referenced by Dennehy as an event of great concern for the farming community.

“We know that dog ownership increased during lockdown, and we also know that some people took on pets without realising the responsibilities that go with that,” Dennehy said.

“As people move about more freely, and some travel to work for part of the week, the danger is that their pets will have too much freedom,” he added.

Appropriate sanctions

The IFA has called for the introduction of a centralised dog ownership database to allow for the identification of the responsible dog owners after attacks.

Dennehy went on to call for tighter measures to be introduced for dealing with these negligent dog owners, once they are identified.

“There must be appropriate sanctions in place for those who fail to have their dog under control at all times, and for those whose dogs are identified worrying or attacking livestock,” he said

“The Minister for Agriculture must advance controls and enforcement for negligent dog owners. We need a single national database for all dogs in the country that identifies the dog owner who is responsible,” Dennehy concluded.