Sheep worrying remains as big an issue as ever, the Minister for Agriculture has said, urging pet owners to control their dogs as an iconic ad on the topic was relaunched.

The issue is particularly prevalent during lambing season as flocks are more vulnerable to dog attacks, especially at night time.

Minister Charlie McConalogue has relaunched a 1980s advertisement which featured a pet called Bonzo.

"Sheep worrying brings immense and unnecessary stress upon farmers. Many of us will remember the 1984 advertisement featuring 'Bonzo' the dog, the theme of which remains as relevant today as back in the 1980s.

"Each year, dogs that are allowed to run free are a menace to sheep. Uncontrolled pets can decimate a flock, with reports suggesting that up to 4,000 sheep are killed or seriously injured in dog attacks yearly. Pet owners are responsible for ensuring that their dogs are under control at all times," he said.

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Up to 2.5 million lambs are born across the country every spring.

"Dog owners must remember that even the most gentle family pet can kill or maim sheep and lambs if allowed to roam.

"Never let your dog out unsupervised, especially at night," said Mr McConalogue, adding that those living in or near rural areas should be extra vigilant.