It is a known fact that homeowners and farmers alike, who own a dog, are more likely not to be broken into.

In the recent past, in the suburbs of Cork City, the gardaí found a list of houses in several estates compiled by burglars, with an ‘X’ marked on the premises of those who owned dogs.

None of these premises were burgled, as the presence of a dog was viewed as a threat to those intending to gain access by unlawful means.

Dogs for the most part have been domesticated.

They are now considered pets and mostly treated like companions or part of the family.

Nevertheless, there will always be a minority of dogs who possess a very strong predatory drive.

This minority are liable to attack livestock, causing serious financial consequences for the farmer and, moreover, legal repercussions for the dog owner.

Experts believe that you cannot train the urge to kill out of a dog.

Thus, from the farmer’s perspective, there will never be a cure, and can only be a prevention.

Accordingly, in order to maximise the prevention, neighbours must be aware that they can only simply control their pet, as distinct from changing their predatory instinct.

The law is there to protect persons in society and to help regulate disputes between parties.

The law clearly states that an owner of an animal, or the person having charge or control of an animal, shall have a duty of care to prevent damage by the animal.

In particular, the owner of a dog shall be liable in damages for damage caused in an attack on any person by the dog, and for the injury done by it to livestock.

The person seeking such damages will not have to show any previous mischievous propensity in the dog.

Section 21 of the 1986 act has abolished the maxim which stated that the “dog was entitled to his first bite”, and the 1986 act now imposes a liability on the owner of the dog for all injury caused to a third party. Strict liability is imposed on the offending dog’s owner. “Strict liability” means the plaintiff need only prove that the incident occurred, and that the defendant’s dog was responsible.

Attacks by dogs on sheep will always be a problem for farmers.

The financial consequences can be detrimental to a farmer’s livelihood.

Lambs, in particular, are vulnerable, obviously because of their size.

The problem, however, that exists is that, many farmers’ neighbours own a dog, as they are essential to protecting the property, as mentioned above.

Understandably, these neighbours would perhaps welcome a bit of aggression in a dog, so that passers-by would see the animal making its presence felt. The dog owner would perhaps see no harm in seeing their dog barking at passers-by, or even chasing anything from a squirrel to a rabbit, and would welcome the dog frightening off rodents.

Most dog owners would never see their dog as being aggressive.

Unfortunately, most dog owners believe that it always someone else’s dog that would kill sheep.

It is impossible to expect any farmer to be sympathetic towards a dog who attacks their livestock.

Under the Firearms Act 1925 to 2009, the farmer is entitled to protect his livestock and shoot on sight.

There may, however, be other ways of reinforcing control of dogs when chasing sheep.

Farmers and dog owners alike, should consider the differences in personality in dogs and especially so, when living in the vicinity of a farmer.

Most dog owners allow their dog freedom to roam.

Unfortunately, some dogs believe chasing, or even attacking livestock, is in fact them doing a good job for their owner.

Such an animal can be socialised quite easily, thus eliminating this behaviour.

The real problem is those dogs who are the natural born killers, or those who learn to kill and further learn to love the experience of the thrill of the chase.

Under the Microchipping of Dogs Regulations 2015, a programme of microchipping has been introduced which states that all dogs must now be microchipped.

A microchip can be implanted in a dog of any age.

Legally, they must be chipped by the time they are 12 weeks old but they can be chipped earlier than that.

This new legislation brings greater traceability and increases the likelihood of claims being made against dog owners.


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