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IFA calls for tighter dog controls after lamb beheaded in Cork

The Irish Farmer’s Association (IFA) has called for tighter controls on dogs to prevent the animals from slaughtering livestock.

The call comes following a recent incident near Blarney, Co. Cork, wherein a lamb was beheaded, while several others were “torn to bits” by a dog. One ewe (an adult female sheep) was also killed, and yet another was badly injured.

The owner of the sheep, farmer Dan Cronin, said that the incident had seriously upset his family – particularly his 12-year-old daughter Ciara.

“The lambs were her pride and joy,” he said, as reported by the Irish Examiner.

“It’s her job on the farm to look after the sheep. She helped deliver the lambs, she feeds them, she wants to be a vet but when she saw what happened, she’s just so upset.”

Cronin is reportedly now administering medical assistance to several of the injured animals, and plans to take steps to prevent outside access to his land.

There are an estimated 300 dog attacks on animals each year, and the IFA claims that sheep farmers are more affected by irresponsible dog owners than those in other sectors.

“You will all hear about the major attacks that take place, but this is a problem that is not just confined to sporadic large-scale slaughtering of sheep by dogs,” a spokesman for the organisation said.

“There is not a day goes by that sheep farmers throughout the country do not encounter their flocks worried, run into fences and drains and some sheep savaged.”

“These cases do not make the headlines, but they are happening and are an indication of the extent of the problem. This must stop.”

They added: “There must be real and meaningful action and we need it now.”

Back in 2021, the IFA launched the “No Dogs Allowed” campaign to address this issue. However, in February of this year, IFA President Tim Cullinane claimed that the government had not acted to deal with the problem.

“Unfortunately, the situation has worsened over the last two years, with sheep farmers dreading the prospect of a call to say there has been an attack on their flock,” he said, adding that those who have a dog as part of their family must “accept the responsibilities that go with ownership.”

“The level of sanctions that can be applied do not reflect the savagery and trauma these uncontrolled dogs are causing,” he added.

“The absence of a centralised database to identify ownership and those responsible for the dogs, and the lack of enforcement of microchipping, are all contributing to this persistent and escalating problem.”

According to the IFA, the latest report on the implementation of the Control of Dogs Act shows only 192,348 are licensed out of an estimated 800,000 in the country, leaving an estimated 607,652, or 76% of dogs, unidentified.

Some of the policies proposed by the IFA to deal with the problem are increased on-the-spot fines for failing to comply with micro-chipping requirements and for failing to have one’s dog under control. They also propose a significant fine if dogs are simply worrying a farmer’s livestock.

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