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20 per cent of dog owners fail to realise their pet chasing sheep can cause death or injury

An NFU Mutual survey showed a lax public attitude with 10 per cent of dog owners refusing to put their pet on a lead if prompted by a sign.


Lauren   Dean

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Lauren   Dean
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Dog attacks remain persistent problem, police figures show #FGTakeTheLead

Areas of the UK are being persistently affected by dog attacks on livestock, with many counties failing to get a handle on the problem, investigations by Farmers Guardian have revealed.

 

Data from 20 police forces in England and Wales showed there were more than 1,381 attacks in 2017.

 

While the figure is a slight increase from 1,375 in 2016, Police Service Northern Ireland and Police Scotland failed to respond to FG’s Freedom of Information request before the magazine went to press, meaning the true figure is likely to be much higher.

 

It came as a survey by NFU Mutual found more than 20 per cent of dog owners do not think their dog chasing sheep could lead to its death or serious injury.

 

Of the 81 per cent of people walking their pets in the countryside, 64 per cent admitted to letting their dog off a lead, while almost 10 per cent refused to put it back on if prompted by a sign.


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And despite more than 66 per cent of respondents suggesting they understood it was legal for a farmer to shoot a dog if worrying livestock, 13 per cent said their dog only came back ‘some of the time’ when called, with almost 5 per cent answering ‘not at all’.

 

NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist Tim Price said: “It is a mixture of dogs let off the lead when people are out walking them but also a very worrying one is about the 44 per cent of people who let their dogs roam on their own property where the dogs get out.

 

Repeat attacks

“Sometimes it is without the owner’s knowledge, sometimes the owners do not seem to care – and then they get into fields and cause repeated attacks on sheep.”

 

It came as the industry ramped up efforts to spread awareness as the public descend on the countryside over the Easter holidays.

 

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has urged dog walkers to respect the countryside and has supported Farmers Guardian’s Take The Lead campaign since its launch in 2014 to help spread the message of the importance of keeping pets on a lead around livestock.

FUW president Glyn Roberts said: "We want to work with the public on this matter and hope that with a common sense approach we can all enjoy the countryside together and keep our livestock and pets safe.”

 

FG has also continued to work with schools to improve education around responsible dog ownership through its range of resources developed in conjunction with FACE (Farming and Countryside Education).

 

Somerset primary school teacher Kirstin Whitney said: “The resources regarding sheep worrying are very comprehensive and I will be incorporating the quiz and powerpoint into my life cycle lessons next term. Being an urban school the children do not experience sheep very often so this resource is a good introduction to the topic of animal husbandry.”

Police force areas where dog attacks are a recurring problem

Force 2016 2017
Avon and Somerset 27 33
Devon and Cornwall 44 41
Derbyshire 58 73
Durham 59 42
West Yorkshire 66 67
Cheshire 36 123
Cumbria 75 151
Greater Manchester 19 22
South Wales 43 47

 

North Wales Police published combined figures for 2016/17 showing 648 livestock were killed, 376 injured and 52 dogs were shot. A police spokesman said stock worth £45,330 had died as a result of dog attacks since 2013.

Take the Lead signs

Take the Lead signs

To receive your free FG Take The Lead gatepost signs urging the public to take the lead and keep control of their dogs around livestock, send a stamped, self-address A4 envelope to:

FG Take the Lead

Farmers Guardian

Unit 4 Fulwood Business Park

Preston PR2 9NZ

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