Laois rural residents urged to control dogs after ‘heartbreaking’ sheepkill

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Email:

lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie

Laois rural residents urged to control dogs after ‘heartbreaking’ sheepkill

Three of the sheep killed in Timahoe

Flocks of sheep were savaged by roving dogs in Laois last week, resulting in six deaths, and more expected to have to be put down.

Over two days, two separate flocks were mauled and terrorised by dogs.

The first attack took place on Thursday February 15 in Thornberry, a mile outside Abbeyleix, with one sheep killed and others injured and traumatised. An alsation dog is suspected.

The second attack happened in Cremorgan, near Timahoe village on Friday February 16 during the day.

There a flock of 21 hogget sheep were terrorised, with five dead, and more injured that must be put down.

Part time farmer Paddy Delaney was alerted that his sheep had been found a neighbour’s yard after he got home from work, and went to search for his flock.

He described the devastation he and his father Pat found.

“When we got the the field, a third were missing, and on further investigation we found three dead, in drains and ditches. Another had a badly broken leg. They were in a mess. We found two drowned in a drain, they were probably smothered by the other sheep when the dogs ran them in. Another was dead in a field, probably a heart attack after it was run into the ground,” he said.

The year old hoggets were to be used for breeding. Mr Delaney feels lucky that his pregnant ewes were housed, or they could have lost their lambs due to stress.

“Sheep are very sensitive, if they are ran around, it does awful damage and they abort,” he said.

It took most of Saturday to remove the corpses because the ground was too wet for machinery, and they had to drag them by hand.

“It’s heartbreaking. We are in sheep only ten years, and a lot of work goes into them. A lot of things can go wrong, but when it’s because people didn’t keep dogs locked up, it’s tough,” Mr Delaney said.

He estimates the loss at about €800 but is afraid more sheep could be attacked, and is asking owners to be responsible.

“We live far from villages so these were country dogs, it’s not fair to dogs to let them wander. People don’t realise their lovely dogs have basic instincts, and if farmers catch them we will put them down. They are putting their own dogs lives at risk,” he said.

Francie O’Gorman is chairman of Laois Irish Farmers Association.

“It is not just the initial loss of the ewes, this has a knock on effect. There is a responsibility on everybody to know where their dogs are at all times. If they are not with them, they should be securely locked up,” he said.