Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party Robin Swann MLA said he was appalled by the dog attack in which 13 sheep were killed in the Rathkeel Road area of Moorfields.
The North Antrim MLA said: “When farmers go to all the effort of rearing livestock and putting them in their own fields that have been well fenced they have a right to expect the sheep to remain safe.
“This dog attack – which is one of the more serious cases across Northern Ireland this year in terms of animals killed – has shown just how destructive a dog can be.
“Even the most placid family pet can succumb to instincts and chase sheep. The losses can be immense not only in terms of animals killed or injured, but also in terms of the thriving and lambing rates of surviving sheep. Attacks on sheep are not only a financial issue for the farmer, but also a welfare issue for the animals caught up in them as many often endure slow agonising deaths,” added Mr Swann.
“I want people to be able to go out and enjoy the country, including by taking their pets out for walks, but they must do so responsibly. They wouldn’t tolerate it if someone else’s pet came onto their private property and caused havoc, so farmers shouldn’t be expected to tolerate it either.
“Anyone taking their dogs out in rural areas should keep them under close control, and preferably always on a lead, especially if walking anywhere near livestock. If they don’t and their animal attacks livestock then they must be prepared to pay the consequences.”