CLA issues advice to dog owners visiting the countryside

The CLA North team is urging dog owners in the North of England to ensure their pets are under control around livestock to avoid the risk of sheep being badly injured and killed during the lambing season.

The advice follows the publication of a report earlier this week by the National Sheep Association that 70% of sheep farmers surveyed (out of 300) had experienced sheep worrying incidents in the last year.

Lambing season can be a wonderful time of the year, but livestock worrying, which can be caused when dogs chase or attack sheep, it can have serious effects on animals including stress, injury, abortion and death.

Sheep do not cope well with stressful situations and can even die from shock days after the event. It can also have a devastating impact on the owner of the animal with veterinary costs and seeing their animals suffer from the ordeal.

The CLA North office, which represents thousands of landowners, farmers and rural businesses across the North in Cumbria, Lancashire, the North East, and Yorkshire is offering advice to dog owners to help avoid problems this season.

CLA Director North Lucinda Douglas said: “We would advise owners to keep their dogs on a lead or under close control when walking through fields of livestock, particularly sheep at this time of year, and to always stick to public rights of ways.

“If you live near land with livestock in it, ensure that you know where your dog is at all times, and that your property is secure so your dog can’t escape at any time. It is the owner’s responsibility to keep their dog under control and we are also raising awareness about the potential consequences of not doing so. Livestock worrying is a criminal offence and a fine can be handed out.”

“It is important that every instance of livestock worrying is reported to the police. This will allow for a more accurate picture of the scale of the problem to be built up and assist the police and local authority to determine what resources and powers are required in order to effectively tackle the problem.”

Where a dog is in the act of worrying livestock and there is, or is likely to be serious damage to those livestock, call police on 999. Alternatively, dial 101 to report an incident where the dogs are no longer present after an attack or to report problem dog behaviour. Photographs and videos of the worrying incident and/or the damage it caused can be extremely useful.

The CLA has teamed up with LEAF Education to help improve understanding of the Countryside Code by creating a resource pack for teachers and youth group leaders. The code, which was first introduced in 1951, was recently refreshed by the Government but is no longer taught in schools as a matter of course.

The resource pack can be downloaded from:

Key contact:

Henk Geertsema
Henk Geertsema Communications Manager, CLA North