Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Cross-border approach needed to tackle sheep worrying

A Crossmaglen farmer who lost fifteen sheep in a recent attack by marauding dogs has called for the introduction of legislation on an all-island basis to help identify killer dogs and their owners.

Henry McElroy’s farm straddles the border of counties Armagh and Louth, and he says there is an urgent need for system that will compel owners to have their dogs microchipped in order to identify those found to have been involved in sheep attacks.

Early on Tuesday morning 21st March, Mr McElroy says he woke to the sound of his flock in distress.  Hurrying to the field, he was shocked at the scene of carnage, describing it “like an abattoir”, such was the quantity of blood on the grass.  He found one sheep, barely alive, that had its front limb “completely ripped from her body” and such was its distress, he was forced to euthanize the animal.

“There was six others already dead in the field, savagely mutilated,” he said.  “I tried to attend the others that were also savaged.”

When the vet arrived, a further six sheep had to be put down while 16 required intensive treatment, two of which subsequently died.

“The vet informed me this was the 100th call out to sheep savaged by dogs,” he added.

Mr McElroy says the incident represents a massive financial loss to his small farming business and claims it’s likely the offending dogs will kill again if something is not done to help prevent such attacks.

He has called for the compulsory microchipping of all dogs and the introduction of an all-island computerized system to identify “killer” dogs.

Angry at the lack of support for the farming community, and in particular from the North South Ministerial Council, which, he says “has collapsed and delivered nothing”, Mr McElroy, together with representatives of the Irish Farmers’ Association, has vowed to meet with representatives of the body to “iron out” this and other important issues faced by farmers.