Dog owners must exercise firm control over their pets to ensure the animals don’t become involved in sheep worrying, UUP Councillor Jenny Palmer has said.
Mrs Palmer, a Lagan Valley Ulster Unionist Party Assembly candidate and Lisburn and Castlereagh UUP City Councillor, is a long time campaigner for Lagan Valley’s farming community.
She issued her call as the UUP locally unveiled a plan that, if elected, she and fellow Assembly candidate Councillor Robbie Butler, wanted Stormont to carry out a blitz on dog fouling across the constituency.
She said as the summer months progressed, many families would go for walks in the countryside with their dogs.
“People also need to make very sure that when they are walking in the countryside, they guard their dogs so as these family pets do not wander away and attack farm stock, especially sheep and lambs which are exceptionally vulnerable at this time of year,” she said.
“People are often unaware that dogs do not need to physically touch sheep to cause serious damage to them. A dog that enters a field and starts to chase sheep will cause them to panic and run as a flock.
“This can cause miscarriages of lambs, and if they are herded into a tight group, can cause sheep to die of shock and crushing.
“Placid pets can easily become killer hounds and over the years farmers have had to face the terrible sight of their flocks being butchered by these so-called family pets.
“People must also ensure they know where their dogs are at all times. It is very dangerous to simply open the door, usher out the family pet and hope the dog will return in a matter of hours.
“This presents a real danger to the farming community in Ulster, especially if the dogs get together in packs.
“They then have the potential to cause considerable pain to the farm animals as well as inflict immense financial damage on the farmer.
“Lagan Valley’s important agricultural community does not need to cope with this added strain.
“I fully support the rights of farmers to take whatever legal steps they deem necessary to protect their flocks from stray or unaccompanied dogs roaming across their lands.