Police warning to dog owners over livestock worrying

DOG owners are being warned they could face fines of up to £1,000 if their pets worry livestock.

Wiltshire Police say, on average, they receive two reports each month of dogs chasing, injuring or killing sheep and other livestock.

The force said it believes this to be under-reported – and national figures show attacks are on the increase.

A survey by the NFU Mutual with 1,100 dog owners showed 66% allow their pets to roam freely off-lead in the countryside, yet 39% admit their dogs do not come back to them when called, and 64% admit their pets chase livestock.

Police have now moved to remind people who may be out and about with dogs that it is a sensible precaution to keep them on a lead when livestock are nearby.

Almost half (46%) of dog owners in the survey think that their dog would not attack or chase livestock until it happens, and by then it is too late.

Livestock worrying is when a dog attacks or chases livestock on agricultural land or is at large in a field with sheep or other livestock and can result in significant injury or suffering and, in the worst cases, death of the animals involved, having devastating consequences for livestock keepers and causing personal distress as well as significant financial costs.

It is a criminal offence and can mean the dog owner could face prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000, in the most serious case.

The NFU Mutual survey puts the south west region as having the second highest cost to livestock owners in England at an estimated £273,000 in 2022.

Chief Constable Catherine Roper said: “I am asking dog owners to please be considerate of those farming the land and make sure they keep their pets securely on a lead when they are walking anywhere near farm animals.

“As we move towards the main lambing and calving periods, we are supporting our farming communities with increased social media and public engagement focus to highlight the problem; the risk to animals and our farming communities; to encourage reporting and ask dog walkers to respect the Countryside Code.”

Find out more about livestock worrying and how to report it on the Wiltshire Police website.

And if you see a dog worrying or attacking livestock please call 999 or report online at Report a Rural Crime or call 101 after an incident.

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