A recent spate of dog attacks on livestock, particularly sheep, has resulted in a new campaign from Mid Ulster District Council.
The campaign will highlight to the public the dangers of sheep worrying and to urge dog owners to keep their dogs securely housed at night.
A council spokesperson revealed that they have received 14 complaints about sheep worrying over the past two months alone, which when combined with 23 incidents reported from 1 April last year, brings the total to 37 since the new Council commenced a year ago.
“At this time of year dog attacks on livestock, especially sheep can be high due to it being lambing season. The attacks mostly take place at night when many owners believe their dogs are not free to roam,” said the spokesperson.
“This is a serious concern for farmers as there can be quite a substantial financial loss to them should their animals be lost, injured or killed.
“The results of dog attacks are often vicious resulting in terrible injuries.
“Although it is recognised that the vast majority of dogs are well looked after and are friendly family pets, all dogs have the potential to inflict injury and to worry livestock.”
The spoke3sperson added: “The Council is therefore advising dog owners to continue to act responsibly and ensure their dog is under control at all times and securely housed at night.”
Chair of the Council’s Environment Committee, Councillor Christine McFlynn is urging dog owners to be responsible and know the whereabouts of their dog at all times.
“While the majority of dog owners act responsibly there are still some who take little precaution and let their dogs roam unsupervised. Sheep and livestock worrying is a huge concern for farmers in Northern Ireland with many experiencing the devastation it can cause first hand with their livestock being distressed, injured or killed by dogs.
“Everyone involved suffers when it comes to sheep worrying. Farmers bear the serious financial and emotional cost of the incident and dog owners may face destroying their dog, a criminal prosecution and a hefty fine if their dog is identified.”
Councillor McFlynn added: “I just want to remind all dog owners to pay heed to the message of this campaign and keep their dog securely housed at night or pay the price!”
For more information contact Mid Ulster District Council on 03000 132 132 or visit www.midulstercouncil.org/sheepworrying
Crosby Cleland from the UFU said: “Dog worrying of livestock is a very serious issue for farmers. Anyone who has witnessed it will understand the suffering it causes to livestock.”