The President of ICMSA has said that it would be unfortunate if the Irish public were to treat the recent accounts of hikers rescuing a lost dog in the mountains as a simple ‘feel-good’ story and not understand the threat that unsupervised dogs represented to both wildlife and farmers stocks in these circumstances.
Pat McCormack said that while he didn’t want to appear meanspirited and he too shared the joy at a beloved family pet being found and rescued, it was vitally important that what he called “the underlying grim reality” of dogs escaping walkers and owners to worry sheep flocks and other livestock was at least acknowledged and recognised.
“We’re very conscious of people’s need to get out and go for walks to escape the sense of confinement – and we’re also very understanding of their desire to bring family dogs with them – but we have to say that we’d have reservations about the way this latest story is being presented as exclusively a matter for the specific dog owners concerned. Dogs breaking away and criss-crossing the countryside or hills often have very serious consequences for local farmers – particularly sheep farmers.
Farm organisations and local papers are inundated at this time of year with reports of sheep kills and livestock being attacked and chased by dogs so it’s very important that the message goes out that dogs being taken on walks into areas where livestock might be grazing should always be kept on leashes or otherwise controlled. Deer will outrun chasing dogs – sheep and cattle just won’t”, said the ICMSA President.
“As I say, we don’t want to dispel a legitimate feel-good story, but the truth is that dogs should always be leashed in areas where there is sizable wildlife and farm animals. Dead or injured livestock rarely make the front pages or main new stories but they have a hugely significant impact on the lives of their owners as well as causing huge stress to the animal concerned”, concluded Mr McCormack.