Farmer finds sheep with ears bitten off in alleged dog attack

By Mary Dennehy

AS LAMBING season starts, local farmers have asked South Dublin County Council and members of the public to be mindful of the risks posed to sheep by dogs off the lead – especially when using Kiltipper Park.

Last week, a farmer who has land close to Kiltipper Park in Bohernabreena found two of his sheep badly injured after an alleged dog attack – which saw both sheep suffer injuries to their faces, including their ears being bitten off.

Sheep Dog Attack Kiltipper ParkThe injured sheep.

Issues around Kiltipper Park, which is owned by South Dublin County Council, have been repeatedly raised by the farming community - with calls being made for the local authority to secure or fence in the park.

The lack of signage on the control of dogs within the public park has also been flagged as a concern, with calls being made for the park to be put on the dog warden’s rota for visits.

Kiltipper Park, which has been left as a ‘natural’ park, runs from the top of the Kiltipper Road down towards Bohernabreena – with an access point to the park lying opposite the entrance to the waterworks.

Speaking with The Echo, the local farmer whose sheep were injured said: “Dogs have free run in [Kiltipper] park, there’s no policing for dogs, there’s not even signs to inform people to keep their dogs on a lead.

Kiltipper Park 07 1

Kiltpper Park is is close to farmering land, and had a new sign installed on keeping dogs on a lead

“The boundaries are also the same as when the council got it.

“Farmers have tried to fence their side of the fields but there’s nothing on the council’s side, there’s just overgrowth between lands – which wouldn’t stop a dog.

“If a dog chases a hare or a deer they usually end up in the ditch and can end up on farming land.”

He added: “When I found my sheep one was missing two ears and the other had a lump taken out of her face and an ear gone.

“This causes so much trauma for the animals and with lambing season approaching, I’m just lucky that I didn’t have the pregnant ewes in the field.”

According to the farmer, the frequency and number of dogs running around the park is also impacting on wildlife in the area, with the local farmer believing that “a bird wouldn’t get a chance” to nest in the park.

“We understand that people have to bring their dogs somewhere for a play but they should be on leads”, he said. 

“Chasing off after animals like this also endangers the dog as well due to make-up of the park, it’s very overgrown.

“This is not the dog’s fault, it’s the owner’s fault… and when people are walking two or three dogs off the lead you can’t have control of all dogs.”

Donie Anderson, Chairman of the Bohernabreena Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), told The Echo that he is trying to secure a meeting between residents and the council’s parks department – alongside raising issues around dogs worrying sheep in the local area.

“The council did nothing to secure the park when they took it over”, Donie said.

When contacted by The Echo, Mary Maguire, of the council’s environment, water and climate change department, confirmed that signage was being arranged for Kiltipper Park – with The Echo spotting a sign going up at the entrance to the park last Tuesday afternoon.

“The council is conscious of the unfortunate reality of dog attacks on sheep each spring, and refers to the Control of Dogs Act 1986 which requires that dogs must be kept under effectual control”, Ms Maguire said.

“[We also refer] to the council’s Parks and Open Spaces Bye-Laws which require that dogs are kept on a lead while in council parks and on open spaces.

“I can confirm that South Dublin County Council is aware of the recent alleged dog related incident(s), and can further confirm that, in accordance with the council’s Bye-Laws, signage is being arranged for Kiltipper Park.

“The council also advises that the sheep farming community follow the Irish Farmers’ Association protocol for farmers who encounter a dog attack on their sheep flocks.”

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