Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Pictured above are some of the sheep belonging to the Chairperson of Wexford IFA, James Kehoe, that were killed during a dog attack four years ago. The organisation is calling for the army to be called in to deal with a dog carrying out attacks in the New Ross area. (Pic: Christy Farrell)

THE CHAIRPERSON of Wexford IFA has said his organisation wants the army to be called in to deal with a wild dog that is attacking sheep in the New Ross area.

Speaking about the matter James Kehoe said the dog has been wreaking havoc for farmers in the Stokestown area – just a couple of miles from the town – and has so far avoided capture.

“We want to get it dealt with,” said Mr. Kehoe.

“This is a very serious situation for the farmers involved,” he added.

“A number of farmers have been affected and at the moment the number of sheep that have been killed is over 50.”

However, there are other animals missing with others suffering grotesque injuries.

“A lot of the time the best thing to do with a sheep that’s injured by a dog is to put it down as they find it very hard to recover from the trauma of such attacks,” said Mr. Kehoe.

“Their personality changes because they get do traumatised by their ordeal that they kind of go into themselves,” he added.

“The thing about this case is that it’s a lot of fattening sheep and that’s bad enough but if it was flocks going into lambing that would be even worse again.”

Describing how the attacks are occurring Mr. Kehoe said the dog targets five or six animals and then lies low before hitting a different area a couple of days later.

He said the onus of responsibility is on dog owners, not the animals themselves, to ensure such attacks stop happening.

“Some dogs get out by accident and that does happen but owners need to ensure their dog is locked up securely and can’t escape,” he said.

“This animal doesn’t seem to have any owner.”

The farmers concerned have made efforts to catch the dog but as Mr. Kehoe said: “So far he has proved to be very elusive.”

“I’ve made contact with Minister Paul Kehoe to see if the defence forces could be called in and to be honest we’re terrified that a child might also be targeted,” he said.

He said the IFA is also calling for a zero tolerance policy to be adopted where dogs are found roaming on land where there is livestock.

“We would urge dog owners to keep their animals inside a controlled area at all times,” he said.

“It’s not the dogs fault because it’s within every dog to do it because it’s in their DNA to chase moving animals.”

Mr. Kehoe said the cost of the damage caused by the dog attacks is only one aspect of the problem.

“Farmers are very considerate with their animals,” he said.

His own sheep were subjected to dog attacks four years ago and Mr. Kehoe said it left him traumatised too.

“It happened to me and it affected me emotionally,” he said.

“The sheep are torn apart in these attacks,” he added.

“I’d get up during the middle of the night during lambing and tend to them and then when you see the same animals attacks this way it does get to you.”

He went on to comment: “The money is only part of it in my opinion and lots of farmers said they had to get out of it because they couldn’t take the dog attacks.”

“I know it might sound funny but for the sheep involved the trauma they experience is something like what humans are experiencing in places like Syria – they are literally been torn to death.”

County Dog Warden, Johnny Colfer, said that in the majority of cases like this the dogs involved are located relatively quickly.

However, the animal in Stokestown has so-far avoided capture.

“The Stokestown and Dunganstown areas have a lot of forestry so there are a lot of places the dog could remain undetected,” said Mr. Colfer.

He also urged members of the public to be careful if they think they spot the dog involved – believed to be a possible cross between a Lurcher and a German Shepherd or Bull terrier.

If anyone does think they’ve spotted the dog they should contact New Ross Gardai immediately on 051-421204.

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