Keep dogs under control call welcomed by farmers

By Mary Dennehy

THE local farming community has welcomed national calls for people to keep their dogs under control around farmland, especially in lambing season.

The Wicklow Uplands Council this week launched its annual Responsible Dog Control Awareness Campaign.

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Glenasmole farmer Donie Anderson with his dog Jess in the hills above Tallaght

According to the Uplands Council, sheep flocks are at their most vulnerable during lambing season to incidences of worrying and attacks by dogs – with even the presence of dogs with playful intent causing anxiety within a flock.

“Dogs loose on the hills cause anxiety within a flock of sheep, often causing them to be displaced and getting stuck in rough ground and vegetation,” the Uplands Council said in a statement released.

“When a flock is disturbed, the loss of young lambs due to hunger can also occur if they become separated from their mother, the source of essential milk.

“This is not just a problem for the landowner in terms of their livelihood but it is also a serious animal welfare issue.

“The problem is not limited to walker’s dogs with damage often being caused by local dogs which stray from neighbouring properties, often with their owners unaware of their whereabouts.”

The Wicklow Uplands Council also noted how this time of year is an important breeding season for ground-nesting birds and wildlife which, along with sheep, can become startled by the presence of dogs.

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Donnie Anderson

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) also issued a national appeal this week, reminding dog owners to act responsibly.

According to Dr Andrew Kelly, ISPCA CEO: “Dog owners must keep their dogs under control at all times and can be held responsible for attacks on sheep, which can have serious financial and legal consequences.

“This can be a hugely stressful time for sheep farmers trying to protect their flock and they can often experience horrific dog attacks, causing damage to their sheep, pregnant ewes and lambs during lambing season, from January through to spring.

“Pregnant ewes can be seriously injured in a panic to escape from chasing dogs, often miscarrying their lambs, which is devastating for farmers.

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Calls have been made to keep dogs under control

“Allowing a dog to roam is not only irresponsible but it is also an offence not to have your dog under effective control and local authorities are enforcing the Control of Dog’s Act.”

This national call has been welcomed by the local farming community working across Tallaght’s hills and uplands.

Speaking with The Echo, Glenasmole farmer Donie Anderson said: “We’d be asking people to be mindful when walking in the hills and in public parks bordering farmland.

“Lambing season in-and-around the local hills and the upland areas really starts for us in March and we would ask people to keep that in mind.

“People don’t go out to cause harm with their dogs but if a dog takes off after a hare or a rabbit they could easily end up on farmland.

“It’s not the dog’s fault, people just don’t think of what can happen.”

The Wicklow Uplands Council has issued guidelines for all dog owners living or visiting farmlands areas.

Visit Wicklow Uplands for more.

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