Council issues advice to dog owners during critical period for farmers

21st February 2024

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Fermanagh and Omagh District Council reminds dog owners to always keep their dogs under control near livestock and particularly over the next few months as lambing season approaches.

Livestock worrying caused by dogs is a key concern for farmers and still remains an issue in the Fermanagh and Omagh District with 14 reported and investigated incidents last year.

Worrying of livestock does not just mean attacking or killing an animal; it also includes chasing livestock. Dogs chasing livestock causes them serious stress which results in suffering and often leads to ewe miscarriages as well as sheep and new-born lamb deaths.

Under the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983, it is an offence to allow a dog onto land containing livestock if it is not under control and to cause worrying to any animal. The Order defines ‘under control’ as ‘restrained by a chain or other sufficient leash held by someone exercising proper control over the dog’.

The person in charge of any dog that is guilty of such an offence is liable to a fine of up to £1,000 and a court may call for the dog to be destroyed.

Commenting on the issue of livestock worrying caused by dogs, Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Cllr Thomas O’ Reilly said,

“The Council recognises that the majority of dog owners in our district are very mindful of other people and other animals and take great care in keeping their dogs under control, which we are very grateful for.

However, livestock worrying caused by dogs, unfortunately, still remains an issue. I urge all dog owners to always keep their dog on a lead when walking in rural areas, particularly where there are sheep grazing, and ensure their dogs are securely enclosed at their homes to prevent them escaping, particularly at night.”

Authorised Council Officers have the authority to seize any dog suspected of being involved in worrying or attacking livestock.

Officers respond to all incidents of worrying or attacks that are reported to the Dog Control Service. The Council encourages anyone who witnesses a livestock worrying incident, to report this to the Dog Control Service on 0300 303 1777.