Advice to dog owners about livestock and the law after sheep are killed

12 April 2017

Northamptonshire Police are urging dog owners to understand their responsibilities and the law following reports of livestock being badly injured and killed during the lambing season.

PC Chloe Gillies, Wildlife and Rural Crime Officer, said: “We’ve had an increase in incidents of livestock worrying recently which can have serious effects on the animal 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.

“We are advising dog owners to keep their dogs on a lead and under control when walking through fields of livestock, particularly sheep at this time of year, because it is lambing season and to always stick to public rights of ways. If you live beside land with livestock in it ensure that you know where your dog is at all times, and that your property is secure and that 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 of £1,000 can be handed out. The Animals Act entitles the owner of the livestock, the landowner, or those acting on their behalf, to shoot any dog if they believe it is the only reasonable way of stopping it worrying livestock. The police must be notified within 48 hours if this action is taken.

“People are often unaware of what the law actually means such as the definition of livestock, what  livestock worrying encompasses and the definitions of agricultural land.

“The law states that if a dog worries livestock on any agricultural land, the owner of the dog, and, if it is in the charge of a person other than the owner, that person also shall be guilty of an offence. It’s also important to understand what worrying livestock means. As well as attacking livestock it includes chasing livestock in such a way as may reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering to the livestock or being at large (not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.”

Please report incidents of livestock worrying on 101.