Farm leaders hope that dog ‘chips’ will end sheep carnage

BY FRANCIS FARRAGHER

THE decision by Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, to microchip all dogs has been warmly welcomed by farm representatives this week who have lobbied for years, to have such a traceability system put in place. Over the past six months there have been a series of dog attacks on sheep in Co. Galway with the Oranmore, Loughrea and Tuam areas particularly badly hit.

“This is long overdue but the announcement from the Minister is to be welcomed. For years, sheep farmers have suffered serious losses due to dog attacks on their flocks without any redress,” said Galway IFA Chairman, Michael Flynn. He also called for the microchipping of the dogs to be linked into some kind of insurance scheme that would put an onus on the dog owners to provide cover for compensation.

“We would like to see the scheme put in place immediately with a proper centralised data base – this has been a scourge in farming that has been allowed to go unchecked for too long,” said Michael Flynn.

He said that as well as the financial loss suffered by farmers, the cruelty element was absolutely horrendous with the packs of dogs ‘boring holes’ into the unfortunate sheep.

IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman, James Murphy, said the move to microchip all dogs had an important role to play in terms of responsible dog ownership but would only be effective if it was matched by a comprehensive central database in the Dept. of Agriculture.

He said it would not make sense to do away with dog licensing altogether once an effective microchipping database was in place and called on Minister Coveney to commit to dog owners that there would be no duplication of costs.

“Farmers are in the middle of the peak lambing season, when sheep flocks are particularly vulnerable to dog attacks, especially during the night,” said James Murphy. He added that up to 2.5m lambs will be born on 30,000 sheep farms across the country by the end of the lambing season.

The news of the microchipping has also been welcomed by Veterinary Ireland who said that the system would be one one of the core tenets of responsible pet ownership.

“Mandatory universal microchip identification will ultimately assist in animal welfare for a number of reasons. A correctly inserted and registered microchip ensures that if a dog gets lost then it can be efficiently and quickly re-united with its owner.

“In addition, if a dog is subject to cruelty or abandonment, or if a dog attacks a person or livestock, then the owner can be identified and can be held accountable, up to and including prosecution.

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