Farmers have been urged by a veterinary surgeon to keep their eyes peeled for a pack of vicious dogs which bit off the ears of two cows.
The cows had been with the herd at the time.
Reports of dogs attacking sheep are quite common and the Irish Farmers’ Association estimates that around 4,000 sheep are injured or killed in that way every year.
But it’s highly unusual for dogs to attack fully-grown cows, especially when they are within the protection of the herd.
But that’s exactly what happened in Mourneabbey, near Mallow, Co Cork, on Monday last.
John Collins, a vet based in Mallow, said he was called by a dairy farmer to attend to two cows.
“One of them had both its ears torn off and the other lost one ear,” he said.
“The attack caused acute pain and distress. The cartilage of the ears was gone, but they did not lose their hearing.’’
Mr Collins said he was presented with a mammoth task to patch up both cows which were in calf.
Fortunately, he said, despite the trauma neither had aborted.
Mr Collins put the cows on painkillers and antibiotics.
The vet said he had never come across such an incident before and was especially concerned that the dogs involved in the attack could seriously harm a child.
Mr Collins said the farmer heard a commotion in a shed where the cows were feeding on silage but, by the time he got there, the dogs had fled.
“The injuries were certainly consistent with something catching and ripping their ears.’’
He said the attack had not been carried out by foxes because the farmer had heard dogs barking before he reached the shed.
“The dogs were bold enough to attack two cows in the presence of 30 or 40 others.
“With that kind of aggression I’d be very worried if they attacked a child,’’ Mr Collins said.
Farming organisations, meanwhile, are hoping the introduction of microchipping for dogs, scheduled to come into effect next month, will assist in identifying packs of dogs involved in attacks.
Mr Collins advised: “Owners need to keep their pets under control as pets can turn when the pack instinct kicks in.”
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