Uncontrolled pets can decimate a flock within minutes, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said.

Some 240 livestock worrying incidences were reported as having occurred in 2020, with a similar number expected to have happened in 2021, figures released by local authorities have revealed.

On Thursday, the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Rural Development launched an awareness campaign on the dangers of dogs worrying sheep ahead of the lambing season.

The ministers reminded dog owners that they were responsible for their pets and that flocks can be decimate “within minutes” of an uncontrolled dog entering a field of sheep.


“Attacks on sheep can have a devastating impact on farmers, their business, and their families. I am a dog owner myself and I know the vast majority of dog owners are extremely responsible,” Minister for Rural Development Heather Humphreys explained.

“But the latest figures show that in 2020, there were 240 incidents of livestock worrying reported to local authorities,” she said.

4,000 sheep per year

“Uncontrolled pets can decimate a flock within minutes, with reports suggesting that up to 4,000 sheep are killed or seriously injured in dog attacks every year,” stated Minister McConalogue at the launch.

The Minister for Agriculture reminded the public that even seemingly quiet dogs can inflict great damage to flocks, should their owners lose control.

‘‘Dog owners must take responsibility for their pets, which must be under control at all times – remember, even the gentlest family pet can kill or maim sheep and lambs. Never let your dog out unsupervised, especially at night,” he added.

Owner obligations

Minister McConalogue assured farmers that he was working with the other departments responsible for the regulation of dog ownership to ensure a stop would be put to worrying incidents.

By law, every dog must be microchipped and the possession, movement, sale or supply of an unchipped dog is an offence

He went on to remind dog owners of their legal responsibilities around microchipping and ownership.

“By law, every dog must be microchipped and the possession, movement, sale or supply of an unchipped dog is an offence.

"I am committed to working with Minister Humphreys to ensure sheep-worrying by dogs becomes a thing of the past, and our officials are working together to improve enforcement of the laws applicable to dogs," he said.