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Warning after savage sheep attack

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SAVAGED Pictured are some of the lambs who were badly injured after being attacked by dogs on a farm in Aughagower last week. Pic: Conor McKeown

Marauding pack of dogs spent hours attacking farm’s flock

Edwin McGreal

A Westport man has pleaded with farmers to take responsibility for their dogs after sheep on his son’s farm were savagely attacked.
Seán Langan made the plea after four lambs had to be put down at the weekend. Sixteen more are still being treated. They came under attack from a pack of sheepdogs on Friday night. It is highly likely, says Mr Langan, that more will have to be put down.
“I’d ask farmers to make sure their dogs are secure, particularly at night. Every farmer thinks their dog will never do any harm, but the reality is different,” he told The Mayo News last night.
The sheep and their lambs belong to Seán’s son Brian, and were being kept on his land at Tavanagh, Aughagower, Westport.
Seán said he was out on Friday night and returned home to see missed calls from his son Brian. Brian then told him that dogs had been barking for a number of hours in fields on the farm where sheep and lambs were grazing.
As Brian has multiple sclerosis, confining him to a wheelchair, he was not in a position to go out to help the sheep.
Seán said he went out to the fields at around 2.30am and discovered that lambs had been attacked in four of the five fields where their stock were grazing. The dogs fled shortly after Seán arrived.
“The dogs were going from field to field. On Friday night it was dark and wet and it was hard to see the extent of the damage. It was three sheepdogs that were attacking the lambs.
It was Saturday morning when I realised the severity of it. I had to bring four to the vet to be put down and some more will, unfortunately, follow.
“I am treating them every day, and it is not easy to round them up. On the night one lamb got over two lots of four-foot wire into another field, clearly out of pure panic. All the sheep and the lambs are so frightened now. It is distressing to see,” said Mr Langan.

Second attack
It is not the first time this month lambs have been under attack on the Langan farm.
The previous weekend Seán encountered three dogs eating a dead lamb in one of the fields on the farm. He said the lamb may well have died from natural causes but that was not what was most striking about the incident.
“When I came on them they were so engrossed, eating the lamb … when they saw me, they came for me viciously, and only because I had a stick and a dog to fend them off did they run away. I never saw anything like it. If it was a young person I would be fearful as to what might have happened,” he said.
Last Tuesday he brought three lambs to the vet’s. He was finding lambs lame, but because lameness is not unusual for this time of year, he was uncertain as to the cause. However, he said the vet confirmed that they, too, had been attacked by dogs.
Worse was to come.
On Friday night last, once again, three dogs entered Langan land. Sean said they ran away in the same direction as the dogs who he found eating the dead lamb the previous weekend.
“I recognised the three dogs the day they nearly came at me. I can’t say it was the same dogs on Friday night, because it was dark, but there were three of them and they went in the same direction.
“I would appeal to farmers and people in general to secure their dogs. Any dog can do damage if it gets in a pack. A fox cannot catch a lamb at this stage; it could when a lamb is newborn. One dog couldn’t either but in a pack they can.
“Confine the dogs at night, in particular. It is criminal to have them loose. Once a dog draws blood and gets a taste he will kill again and again. People should know where their dogs are at all times.
“The reason I am going public is that it was regular sheepdogs who did this. People might think it would be Alsatians or Bulldogs or terriers who would do this. Any dog can do damage.
“It has caused a lot of trauma. The financial side is only one part of it. You couldn’t quantify the damage. All the sheep and lambs are so stressed now,” he said.