The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association is calling on State Authorities and in particular the County Councils to deliver on their responsibilities in relation to dog control. In outlining the ongoing devastation dog attacks has inflicted on sheep flocks throughout the country National President Colm O’Donnell stated “how this will only ever change when the laws on dog control are fully enforced.” As it stands he added “at national and county level we have seen a complete abdication of responsibilities by the powers that be resulting in no control on dogs and no penalties for their irresponsible owners.”
Dog owners he continued “are required to be in control of their dogs at all times which also means knowing where their dogs are at all times. Sadly throughout the country this is not the case. At night many dog owners go to bed while outside their dog is allowed to roam free, others do control their dog at night but allow their dog to roam free while they are gone to work and of course on the hills we see recreational walkers allowing their dogs to roam free clearly unconcerned of the potential stress and damage dogs can cause for our hill flocks. The gross margin per ewe in hill flocks is low enough without having flocks attacked in this way.
All of this he stated “will continue if action is not taken. In the 1970’s we had a national awareness campaign with TV adds illustrating what a pack of uncontrolled dogs can do to a sheep flock. We need something similar again. A campaign that targets all media outlets could be up and running by early February if the will is there to do it.”
Of course a media campaign on its own won’t be enough; we will continued O’Donnell “need to see full enforcement of the laws that are there. This will need more resources as the current compliment of one dog warden per county is clearly not enough. These wardens need back-up and it is our belief that a team of part-time wardens assisting what is presently there, operating in the evenings and at weekends, could over the next two years ensure every dog owner is visited and where needs be address any issue that arises.”
He concluded by stressing the importance of action by our state bodies adding “how it is not the farmer’s responsibility to control other peoples dogs.”