FARMERS have the right to shoot a dog if they threaten the safety of livestock.
The timely reminder from VioVet, the online pet medication and food retailer, comes as the fields fill with the bleating sound of pregnant ewes and newborn lambs.
But the nature of sheep is such that even if a dog thinks it is ‘playing’, it can wreak havoc according to John Cousins BVSc, MRCVS, Director of VioVet: “Sheep are flight animals, and will flee at full speed when around an unpredictable dog,” he says.
“Dogs running amuck amongst a flock of sheep can cause serious harm to expectant ewes, who may miscarry. It also affects the flock’s future lambing ability, damaging not just the animals but also the farmer’s livelihood.”
John says that legal responsibility for destruction of the farmer’s property, including to expectant ewes and newborn lambs, lies with the dog owner: “Even some of the best trained dogs can retain a predatory instinct when presented with sheep in pasture, and our advice is simple: keep them on a lead at all times.”
Section nine of the Animals Act, 1971 states when the safety of livestock is threatened, the farmer or landowner maintains the right to shoot a dog, provided the incident is reported to police within 48 hours.