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Council issues advice to dog owners during lambing season 

11th March 2020

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has issued a reminder to dog owners to keep their dogs under control near livestock at all times.

With lambing season upon us, the Council is highlighting the issue of dog worrying of livestock and its potential consequences.

Worrying livestock can involve a dog chasing livestockin such a way as could reasonably be expected to cause some form of suffering to the animals, attacking or killing cattle or sheep.

There have been 32 cases of livestock worrying in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area since 1 January 2019.

Highlighting the issue, Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Siobhán Currie, said:

“Although the vast majority of dogs are well looked after and are friendly family pets, all dogs have the potential to inflict injury and to worry livestock.

Chasing by dogs can cause serious damage to sheep. The stress of worrying by dogs can cause sheep to die and pregnant ewes to miscarry their lambs. Dog worrying of livestock and especially sheep during lambing season is a very serious concern for farmers and we urge dog owners to always act responsibly by keeping their dog under control”.  

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is reminding dog owners to act responsibly by ensuring their dog is always kept under control near livestock and to keep their dogs secure at night.

It is a criminal offence under the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 to allow a dog on any land containing livestock unless the dog is under control.

The Order defines ‘under control’ as ‘restrained by a chain or other sufficient leash held by a person exercising proper control over the dog’. The Order also states that if a dog worries sheep (attacks or kills sheep or chases them in a way that may cause injury, suffering or financial loss to their owner) the person in charge of that dog is guilty of an offence. The penalty for this offence is a fine of up to £1000.

To stop dogs worrying livestock dog owners should keep a dog on a lead at all times if walking in rural areas; check garden fences and gates are in order to keep gardens secure; and seek a dog trainer to educate your dog on how to behave around sheep and other livestock. Having your dog’s favourite toy or ball with you when you go out for a walk may also help to divert the dog’s attention away from sheep or livestock.  

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Dog Wardens have the authority to seize any dog suspected of being involved in worrying or attacking livestock.  

Dog owners may be prosecuted for offences and a court may order the dog to be destroyed. A civil case may also be brought against the dog owner by the farmer for any financial loss suffered.

Council Dog Wardens respond to all reported incidents of dog worrying or attacks. Anyone who witnesses a dog worrying or attacking livestock should report it to the Council’s Dog Warden team by telephoning 0300 303 1777, Text phone 028 8225 6216.