As the Easter bank holiday approaches, the CLA is urging dog owners to ensure their pets are under complete control around livestock to avoid the risk of sheep being injured or killed during lambing season.
Fleeing from dogs causes sheep significant stress resulting in, particularly at this time of year, the miscarrying of lambs and in severe cases the animal will die. There is also huge risk of injury with the animal trying to escape through fences and field boundaries.
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 owners with veterinary costs and seeing their animals suffer.
Ann Maidment, CLA South West Acting Director said: “I would encourage owners to keep their dogs on a lead when walking through livestock and to always stick to public rights of ways. It is the owner’s responsibility to keep their dog under close control, and you should ensure that you know exactly where your dog is at all times.
“We are hearing the same excuses again and again, and the time has come for dog owners to act responsibly or face the consequences. Livestock worrying is a criminal offence with the penalty being up to 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £1000. If your dog chases livestock – you are committing a crime.”
The response from dog owners is often that the dog has “never done something like this before” – All dogs have the instinct to chase, even if they are usually obedient and good around other animals.
A few simple measures can help eliminate the risk of prosecution for the dog owner and unnecessary harm to livestock.
It is important that every instance of livestock worrying is reported to the police. 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.