Council alert dog owners about sheep worrying

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Coleraine Borough Council has issued a call for dog owners to be mindful of their dogs whereabouts after two incidents of sheep worrying were reported to its dog wardens within the past month.

Dave Sexton, Dog Warden at Coleraine Borough Council commented, “With lambing season approaching, dog owners, especially those in rural areas, are reminded of the need to ensure their dogs are kept secure at all times to help prevent sheep worrying incidents.

“Any dog is capable of sheep worrying regardless of its size, breed or temperament. Dogs instinctively chase sheep which can cause them to panic and run. Sheep frighten easily when chased causing them to possibly run into nearby rivers, sheughs or undergrowth and result in drowning or injury. This is especially important with the lambing season approaching as the fear of being chased can cause ewes to miscarry.

“A dog does not necessarily have to physically attack and bite a sheep for it to be deemed as worrying, however dogs can cause severe injury. Council has been notified of two incidents of sheep worrying in the past week in the Macosquin area of Coleraine. One on Friday 30th January in which five sheep were killed and seven injured and another on Tuesday 3rd February in which two lambs were killed and a number injured. Both incidents have impacted on a farmers livelihood.”

Council is obliged under the ‘Dogs Order 1983’ to investigate incidents of sheep worrying. A dog owner may be prosecuted and made liable for any damage and loss a farmer has endured as a result of sheep worrying caused by their dog. In some causes a magistrate may order that the dog be destroyed.

It is an offence under the ‘Dogs Order 1983’, as amended, to allow a dog to worry sheep. A farmer has the right to shoot any dog worrying livestock on their land. Council Officers have the authority to pursue owners of dogs found to be sheep worrying through the courts or issue fixed penalty fines in less serious cases.

For more information or to report acts of sheep worrying, please contact the Dog Warden Service at Coleraine Borough Council on 028 70347171 or log on to Council’s website