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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 23 January, 2020
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Christmas present dogs 'a worry for sheep farmers'

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association has warned of dangers of roaming dogs – especially when they are given to “irresponsible” owners at Christmas.

File photo
File photo
Image: TheGiantVermin via Flickr.com

THE CONCERN OF animal welfare organisations over the increased purchases of dogs and other pets over Christmas has been echoed by another group today.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has a different concern, however. Paul Brady, chairman of the ICSA, has warned that giving dogs as gifts can have serious consequences for the farming community. Dog attacks on livestock is still very much a reality for sheep farmers in particular, he said:

The problem has simply not gone away. Unchipped dogs are a real concern for sheep farmers. Only this weekend, two German Shepherds mauled and killed a number of sheep in my own flock. Sheep are a seriously valuable commodity and people must be fully aware of the full scale of responsibilities that goes along with having a dog, especially in rural areas… There are too many dogs in the possession of irresponsible owners who are not prepared to look after them properly. When dogs are allowed to roam freely without owners knowing where they are, then the sheep is the one that pays the ultimate price.

Brady said the ICSA was continuing to lobby for all dogs to be fitted with a compulsory micro-chip so they can be traced. The ICSA argues that farmers are now required to electronically identify all their sheep – and it should be the same for dog owners.

The ISPCA – the Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – has also asked people not to give a puppy as a surprise gift this Christmas. Their call relates to the cases of cruelty, neglect and abandonment of animals after Christmas although the ISPCA does note that people have begun abandoning their older dogs at other times of the year too, possibly as an effect of the recession. Carmel Murray of the ISPCA said:

Christmas is really not the best time to introduce a new puppy in the home. With shorter evenings and bad weather in December and January, coupled with the fact that there is extra activity around the festive season and children are back to school shortly after the arrival of a new puppy, means families don’t have sufficient time to bond with their new pet.

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