Sheep farmers in east Co Cavan - particularly between Cootehill and Cavan town - have been reporting an increasing incidence of sheep worrying incidents.

Abandoned and stray dogs are thought to have been responsible for most of the incidents reported over the past few weeks, according to a representative from Bailieborough Garda station.

“There are a good few stray dogs out in the country. These dogs look as if they were abandoned, because they seem to generally be in good condition,” commented An Garda Síochána community engagement officer Vincent Connell.

Garda Connell, who farmed sheep in previous years, described his efforts to warn the public in areas of particularly persistent dog worrying of the risks associated with walking dogs without leads.

“People might think that if a dog chases a couple of sheep around a field that no damage has been done. They might think it is okay.

“However, the damage may only become known to the farmer at a later stage, when lambs come backwards and so on,” Connell explained.

Worrying incidents are thought to have been caused by hunting or shooting dogs roaming on country roads, the community engagement officer said. Cattle had also been seen running from a labrador in another reported incident.

Two sheep missing

One farmer affected by dog worrying between Cootehill and Cavan town had one sheep killed and another two missing since the time of the attack.

The dog involved in the attack was found and advertised on Facebook as having went missing, although no owners came forward, stated Connell.

“The dog had a collar and looked well-fed. He paid no heed to people,” he added.

“I just want to give a warning to people to keep dogs in, especially at this time of the year,” he concluded.

Recent calls

The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has recently called for the maximum penalty for dog owners to be increased in cases when dogs are found roaming in fields.

The organisation estimates that almost 600,000 dogs in the country are not microchipped, leaving the enforcement of current penalties for dog attacks potentially unenforceable in many instances.