CLA South East is urging dog owners to understand their responsibilities and the law following reports of livestock being badly injured and killed during the lambing season.
Lambing season can be a wonderful time of the year, but livestock worrying can have serious effects on animals including stress, injury, abortion and death, with several incidents reported in 2019 already.
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.
So the CLA South East, which represents thousands of landowners, farmers and rural businesses in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight, is offering advice to dog owners to help avoid problems this season.
Rural Adviser Megan Lock 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 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.
“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 Government 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.