• Latest figures show 240 incidents of ‘Livestock Worrying’ recorded by local authorities
  • Ministers announce start of awareness campaign ahead of upcoming lambing season

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, have reminded dog owners of their responsibilities and the vulnerability of sheep to dog attacks, as lambing season approaches.

The two Ministers said the issue is one of grave concern to the farming community and that attacks on sheep are happening far too often in the rural countryside.

The latest figures compiled by local authorities show that there were 240 incidents of ‘Livestock Worrying’ in 2020 – with a similar number expected when the 2021 returns are completed.

Dog attacks cause serious injury or even death to sheep and can cause grave distress and financial loss for farm families.

Ministers Humphreys and McConalogue today visited a sheep farm in South West Dublin where they announced the start of an awareness campaign that will run over lambing season.

Speaking today, Minister Humphreys said:

“Attacks on sheep can have a devastating impact on farmers, their businesses and their families.”

“I’m a dog owner myself and I know the vast majority of dog owners are extremely responsible.”

“But the latest figures show that in 2020, there were a concerning 240 incidents of ‘Livestock Worrying’ reported to local authorities.”

“As the lambing season approaches, we are already hearing more and more reports of such incidents in Rural Ireland.”

‘‘Some 2.5 million lambs will be born on farms all over Ireland this springtime. Sheep flocks are very vulnerable to dog attacks at this critical time, and especially during the night.”

“It’s horrific for any farmer to witness the awful devastation, pain and anguish that dogs can cause to sheep.”

“So I’m appealing to dog owners today, particularly in rural areas, to please keep your dogs under control and be vigilant at all times.”


Minister McConalogue added:

“Sheep worrying causes immense and unnecessary stress for farmers, and serious animal welfare issues for sheep and new-born lambs. Uncontrolled pets can decimate a flock within minutes, with reports suggesting that up to 4,000 sheep are killed or seriously injured in dog attacks every year.”

 ‘‘Dog owners must take responsibility for their pets, which must be under control at all times – remember, even the gentlest family pet can kill or maim sheep and lambs. Never let your dog out unsupervised, especially at night.”

 The Minister added that responsible pet ownership is a priority for his Department. Advising that all dogs must be microchipped under the law.

 “By law, every dog must be microchipped and the possession, movement, sale or supply of an unchipped dog is an offence. I am committed to working with Minister Humphreys to ensure sheep-worrying by dogs becomes a thing of the past, and our officials are working together to improve enforcement of the laws applicable to dogs.”

 Finally, the Minister reminded anyone concerned about incidents of animal neglect or cruelty that they can contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine helpline by phone or on the dedicated email address.



The Department of Rural and Community Development Press Office

01-773 6843 / 086 7912704

[email protected]

Note to editors:

  • The Control of Dogs Acts 1986, as amended, set out a range of requirements for all dog owners or any other person in charge of a dog.
  • In particular, section 9 of the 1986 Act outlines specific requirements regarding keeping dogs under effectual control.
  • Prosecution under Section 9 of the Act allows for a fine of up to €2,500 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or both. This is enforced by Local Authorities across the country.
  • Separately, Section 21 of the Control of Dogs Act states that the owner of a dog shall be liable for damages associated with an attack by the dog on a person or livestock. This is a civil matter rather than something enforced by Local Authorities.
  • Under the Control of Dogs Acts it is an offence for a dog owner to not have a dog licence.
  • In total there were 182 prosecutions by Local Authorities in 2019, covering all aspects of the Control of Dogs Act.
  • All dogs must also be microchipped and registered on an approved database in accordance with S.I. No. 63/2015 Microchipping of Dogs Regulations 2015, as introduced by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
  • Animal Welfare Helpline:

call save: 0761 064408

phone: 01-607 2379

dedicated email address – [email protected]