Police forces across the UK are warning dog owners to keep their pets under control during walks in the countryside. The warning comes after five dogs were shot for worrying sheep in just two days in Warwickshire.
Dog chasing and attacking livestock are a huge concern for farmers, especially during lambing season: a dog can maul, kill or cause a sheep to miscarry, dealing a serious blow to the farmer’s livelihood and causing a great deal of suffering to the livestock.
Many dog owners are sadly unaware of the damage their dog can cause even when ‘playfully’ chasing sheep, and are often surprised to find out, in the worst possible way, that section 9 of the Animals Act 1971 allows to shoot any dog they see worrying their livestock if they believe it is the only reasonable way of putting a stop to it. Dog owners can also be prosecuted for any damage caused by their dog.
West Mercia police gave out the following advice to dog owners when walking their dogs in the countryside:
- Do not allow your dog to enter a field on its own and keep it under your control at all times.
- Keep your dog on a lead when crossing through fields that contain livestock. However don’t hang onto your dog if you are threatened by cattle, let it go as the cattle will chase the dog.
- Stick to public right of ways.
PC Barnett, dog legislation officer for the Warwickshire force, said, “To lose sheep and unborn lambs has a big effect on farmers’ livelihoods. To lose a loved pet causes huge upset for dog owners too. All it takes to avoid this distress is to keep dogs on leads and make sure they cannot get out and run loose.”