Statistics collated by the IFA indicate that dog attacks on sheep occur in the region of 300 to 400 attacks each year – with between 3,000 and 4,000 sheep injured and killed.

IFA National Sheep chairman John Lynskey reminds farmers of the impending threat that dogs pose to sheep farms across the country and the responsibilities that owners have.

“Unfortunately, I am taking calls on a frequent basis from sheep farmers around the country who have suffered attacks. There are far too many dog owners not taking the responsibility that goes with owning a pet. Dog owners have an obligation to have their dog under control at all times.”

John Lynskey reminded all dog owners, including farmers, of the legal requirement to microchip and register their dogs. All dogs must be microchipped and registered on an authorised database since 31 March 2016.

“Owners can be held responsible for any losses involved in dog attacks, with serious financial and legal consequences," said Louth IFA chairman Gerard Melia. "Farmers have a right to protect their sheep flock and can shoot a dog worrying, or about to worry their flock.”

What to do if your sheep are attacked

To combat this, he said that IFA has launched a protocol to help farmers who encounter a dog attack on their sheep flock. The IFA protocol involves a 10-point plan of action, covering what a farmer should do following a dog attack or sheep kill.

It deals with basic questions and outlines important aspects of the law, and how the dog warden service and the gardaí can help. It also sets out how to keep a full record of the attack, which can be used as evidence at a later stage.

Here is the IFA 10-step protocol in short:

  • 1. Stop the dogs.
  • 2. Follow the law.
  • 3. Inform the gardaí.
  • 4. Ring the dog warden.
  • 5. Contact the IFA.
  • 6. Ring the vet.
  • 7. Keep the evidence/take a picture.
  • 8. Get a valuation of losses.
  • 9. Inform your insurance company.
  • 10. Tell your sheep farming neighbours.
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