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flocking hell Waterford farmer loses almost half his flock in vicious dog attack

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A sheep farmer in West Waterford has lost almost half his flock after they were attacked and killed by dogs.

Eithan Harty, from Ballinamult near the Tipperary border, lost 17 of his sheep to the assault, and had to put down another three of his animals.

He made the grim discovery on Sunday morning when checking on the animals. Speaking on Waterford station WLR, Mr Harty said another six sheep are wounded with broken legs and cuts. Some of these may also have to be put down.

“One of them couldn’t stand up and I didn’t take much notice. I went around the corner then and there was a massacre ,” said Harty, who had the sheep in a field in Aglish, Co Waterford. “I walked the place and it turns out I had 17 of them killed in the field – I had to shoot three more.”

“I broke down,” said the heartbroken farmer, who had to clean up and dispose of the bodies. “I’ve put down two days of hell [after this].”

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Some of the ewes were a pedigree breed which had only been purchased this year. “I am at a loss of €250 a ewe because all the ewes were in lamb,” he said, adding that the total cost is almost €5,000.

The attack has been reported to gardaí who are investigating.

He told presenter Damien Tiernan that the attacks are an example of the “damage that dogs can cause” where people don’t keep their dogs on leads and when they don’t lock them up at night.

Some of the sheep, who were not insured, had half their faces eaten off, according to Harty. Eithan fears the owners of the dogs may never be caught: “There’s no justice for it. People can’t be leaving their dogs loose.”

The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) estimates that somewhere around 300-400 attacks happen each year, with over 3,000 sheep killed annually. Its own data shows an average of 11 sheep killed or injured per attack.

The IFA has warned those considering purchasing a dog for Christmas to think carefully about their decision before jumping into it.

Sheep Chairman Seán Dennehy said dog attacks on animals due to a lack of responsibility being shown by owners is one of the major issues affecting farmers.

"Anybody looking into a household pet should ask themselves if they are prepared to devote the time that's needed to give a dog proper exercise under strict control," Mr Dennehy warned.

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