A Mitchelstown farmer has said that a recent feel-good story about the rescue of a dog on a mountainside, missed the point of unsupervised dogs being a threat to livestock.
Maurice Walsh, chairman of the North Cork ICMSA, from Kilbehenny, strongly criticised reports about the incident in Wicklow.
Maurice said that he did not wish to appear mean spirited, but said it was vitally important that what he called ‘the underlying grim reality of dogs escaping walkers and owners to worry sheep flocks and other livestock’ was at least acknowledged and recognised.
“We’re very conscious of people’s need to get out and go for walks to escape the sense of confinement – and we’re also very understanding of their desire to bring their dogs with them – but we have to say that we’d have reservations about the way this latest story is being presented as exclusively a matter for the specific dog owners concerned.
“Dogs breaking away and criss-crossing the countryside or hills often have very serious consequences for local farmers – particularly sheep farmers.
“Farm organisations and local papers are inundated at this time of year with reports of sheep kills and livestock being attacked and chased by dogs, so it’s very important that the message goes out that dogs being taken on walks into areas where livestock might be grazing, should always be kept on leashes or otherwise controlled. Deer will outrun chasing dogs – sheep and cattle just won’t,” he said.
He called on dog owners to always put their dogs on a leash.
“Dead or injured livestock rarely make the front pages or main news stories but they have a hugely significant impact on the lives of their owners as well as causing huge stress to the animals concerned,” he added.