Up to 4,000 sheep are killed or injured a year by “marauding” dogs, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said.
There are between 300 and 400 dog attacks on sheep flocks each year, according to Sean Dennehy, IFA chair of the organisation's sheep farmers committee.
“In recent weeks we have reports of attacks from all over the country. In county Louth alone, we have reports of 42 sheep killed in the last two months,” Mr Dennehy said.
Between 3,000 and 4,000 sheep were killed or injured from dog attacks each year, with an average 11 sheep killed or injured per attack, he said.
Ahead of the upcoming lambing season, Mr Dennehy said “marauding dogs” could inflict horrendous damage on a farmer’s sheep flock. Farmers had a right to shoot a dog attacking their flock, or a dog about to do so, he said.
“Dog owners can be held responsible for any losses involved in dog attacks on sheep, with serious financial and legal consequences,” he said.
“There are far too many dog owners not taking the responsibility that goes with owning a pet. Dog owners have an obligation to have their dog under control at all times,” he said.
The IFA official said there was a legal requirement on all dog owners to both microchip and register their dogs, under the Animal Health and Welfare Act.
In the coming weeks the national sheep flock of 2.5 million ewes will begin lambing.
More needed to be done by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, to remind dog owners of their responsibilities to keep their animals under control, ahead of the coming lambing season, Mr Dennehy said.