Ulster Farmers' Union says dogs 'must be kept under control'
With lambing season underway, the Ulster Farmers’ Union is urging dog owners to ensure their pets are supervised at all times when walking through the countryside.
UFU deputy president, William Irvine, commented: “With the weather improving and a longer stretch in the evenings, more dog owners will be wanting to enjoy the countryside for recreational activity.
“During early spring, Northern Ireland’s countryside plays home to many pregnant ewes and newborn lambs.
“Dogs should not be allowed to disturb these animals. I would remind all dog owners, whether walking along rural roads or through the countryside next to fields and farms, that dogs must be kept under control as there is the potential for livestock worrying.
“We repeatedly issue this advice, however, it continues to be dismissed by many.”
Last week, a County Armagh member fell victim to a devastating livestock worrying incident on his flock. Mr Irvine said farmers “cannot continue to tolerate this”.
He continued: “There is a consensus amongst dog owners that their pet dog would not engage in such attacks, however, I would urge dog owners to remember that the desire to hunt and chase is part of any dog’s natural instinct.
“If a dog were to engage in a chase this could result in injury or death of those sheep who fall foul to the actions of irresponsible dog owners.
“Sheep that have been chased by dogs in the past and have survived, never fully recover from the attack.
“The welfare of livestock is a priority for farmers and any attack on sheep is also an attack on the farmer’s livelihood.
“The safest and most appropriate thing for all dog walkers to do is to always keep their dogs on a lead when out exploring - I cannot emphasis this enough. When dog owners do not keep their dogs on a lead and act responsibly, there are consequences.
“Farmers should report livestock worrying incidents to their local dog warden for investigation. In Northern Ireland dog wardens are employed by each of the eleven local councils and can be contacted via the telephone,” Mr Irvine concluded.