IFA has launched a protocol on sheep attacks which lists the legal defences against damages for shooting a dog.
On encountering an attack on sheep, the first priority must be to stop the attack immediately, apprehend the marauding dog or dogs and look after the welfare of the sheep, farmers are advised by IFA National Sheep Chairman John Lynskey.
He said the 1984 Control of Dogs Act states it shall be a defence to any action for damages against a person for shooting a dog, or to any charge arising out of the shooting of a dog, if the defendant proves the dog was shot when worrying or about to worry livestock and there was no other reasonable means of ending/preventing the worry.
Or it shall be a defence if the dog was a stray dog in the vicinity where livestock were injured or killed, and the defendant believed the dog was responsible; there was no practical means of capturing the dog or ascertaining the owner, the defendant was in charge of the livestock, and he made a notification within 48 hours at the nearest Garda Station to the shooting.
IFA also advises that full details be reported to the dog warden, and a site visit be requested.
Others to be notified are the local IFA head office, branch representative, and National Sheep Committee member.
The farmer should ask his vet to write a brief report recording important statistics such as numbers dead, severely injured and treated, which will be vital evidence in any legal case.
Pictures of dead sheep, injured sheep, dead dogs, etc, taken on the spot can also be vital evidence.
Flock owners should get a valuation of losses and inform their insurance company of any dog attack as soon as possible.
“It is very important that other sheep farmers in the local area are aware of any dog attack in their vicinity, particularly if the dogs are not apprehended.
“Utilise the local community alert or text messaging facility if available,” advised John Lynskey.
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