The Government is working on bringing in strong penalties for those who do not take responsibility for the actions of their dogs, according to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.
“It is obviously a really important issue and there have been a number of really distressing incidents over the past two or three months in particular,” Minister McConalogue said in response to a question from Independent TD Mattie McGrath.
“It is an issue that the Government takes very seriously. Myself and the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, are in the two Departments that have responsibility for overseeing the issue of dog control.
The Ministers established a working group, which has now completed its report.
“We will shortly bring proposals to Cabinet on that and further legislation will be brought forward as well, which will cover enforcement and fines and better bring together oversight of the issue,” Minister McConalogue continued.
“We want to ensure that people who have dogs take full responsibility for their ownership and that farmers or people going about their normal lives are safe.
“If somebody does not take their responsibility seriously, there should be strong penalties in place, and that is something the Government will expedite.”
Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath said more than a working group is needed.
“We need tangible action against these savage attacks and against the dog owners who do not look after their dogs - although most dog owners do - and leave them run wild and cause marauding attacks on innocent little sheep,” he said.
“It does damage to the whole flock and it causes injuries. It also causes trauma to the families who own those sheep, as well as to the veterinarians and people who go out to treat them. It is very serious. We need this working group to report.
“This is the height of the lambing season. It is a wonderful, joyous season to have spring lambs being born outdoors, but there are these attacks.
“There must be more stringent controls on dogs that are not muzzled and that are off leashes that go on to these farms. We must have severe punishments for these animals when they are caught.”
In February, ICSA sheep chairman Sean McNamara said dogs owned by 'irresponsible townies' are responsible for many attacks on sheep.
“95pc of dog-owners are responsible people who micro-chip their dogs and keep them enclosed on their own premises, the other 5pc who don’t are the problem.
“Much of these are people who have moved from the town to the country and have bought a dog without being aware of the law.”