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New figures show there were 22 attacks by dogs on farm animals in Louth last year

New figures show there were 22 attacks by dogs on farm animals in Louth last year

There were 22 attacks by dogs on farm animals, mainly sheep, in Co Louth last year.

That’s according to new figures published by the Department of Rural and Community Development.

The figures show there were 253 incidents of livestock being attacked by dogs were recorded during 2019 as figures were collated from dog wardens attached to each local authority for the first time.

The damage suffered by farmers can amount to in excess of €1,000 in many cases.

Only Mayo with 27 cases had more than Louth.

Welcoming the publication of official figures, the chairman of the IFA Sheep Committee, Seán Dennehy, said they seemed in line with the organisation’s own estimates that there were between 300 and 400 such attacks each year.

He warned that Louth was particularly at risk of dogs worrying animals.

“In mountainous areas like the Cooley peninsula in Co Louth, you will get a lot of people walking their dogs in areas where sheep are grazing. Due to Covid-19, many people would have more time than normal to exercise in these places,” said Dennehy.

According to the IFA, an average of 11 sheep are either killed or injured during each attack.

“It has a huge economic effect on farmers as well as being very distressing. Some of the injuries are horrific,” said Dennehy.

He claimed the average cost of attacks ranged between €1,100 and €1,800. The cost of sending a carcass of a dead animal to a knackery can be €30 alone.

Dog owners are also liable for prosecution under the same legislation if their animals are found to be involved in attacks on livestock as well as being liable for any damages.

With the onset of the Christmas festive period, Dennehy said it was important for anyone considering buying a dog as a family pet, particularly those living in farming communities, to realise the importance of being able to keep it under control at all times.

“Many dogs by their nature are guard dogs or hunters and they will instinctively chase sheep. Dogs need to be kept on a lead when in such areas or their owners run the risk of creating a situation where their dogs might have to be put down,” he observed.