Keeping dogs on a lead around livestock is unarguably sensible and responsible advice, says professional dog trainer and former police dog handler Jamie Penrith.
Keeping dogs on a lead around livestock is unarguably sensible, responsible advice, and The Association of Responsible Dog Owners fully supports this – but, we know that dog owners can go even further to reduce livestock worrying.
We firmly support the qualified, supervised provision of livestock-proofing for dogs, trained avoidance through the safe and effective use of quality electronic training collars as an addition to existing ‘lead and legislation’ efforts, not as an alternative.
Tragically, experience repeatedly reveals that livestock need not be nearby, and that any dog, particularly those with a strong work ethic, can and will travel considerable distance in pursuit not only of livestock, but deer, birds or game, which can cause the dog to enter farmland with horrendous consequences.
Between 2013 and 2017, 89 per cent of dog attacks in North Wales occurred without an owner present, with Wales overall now facing the horrific reality of a 113 per cent increase in ‘reported’ attacks.
Having banned both electronic containment fences and electronic training collars in 2010, it appears that – despite a substantial body of evidence to prove that both fences and collars save animal lives without evidence of harm – the Welsh Assembly well and truly ‘let the dogs out’ when they criminalised responsible owners for containing or training their dogs.
In 2018, 64 per cent of public respondents to a charity-prompted Defra consultation rejected a similar proposal, showing that England does not wish to follow in the blood-drenched shadow of Wales, but retrain the right to protect our animals.
Regardless, without any evidence, Defra Secretary Michael Gove announced his intention to ban handheld training collars, prohibiting the most effective, scientifically proven, livestock-proofing tool available.
Leads snap, get dropped or yanked free; dogs escape from gardens, cars and ‘safe’ areas. As Wales has clearly shown, banning electronic collars makes no welfare sense at all.
To criminalise those dog owners who take robust action to ensure that their dog will never chase livestock is nonsensical.
Due to their unquestionable value in protecting all animals from dog attacks, Scotland recently rejected calls to ban electronic collars.
We are campaigning to urge England to do likewise and Wales to revoke their disastrous decision for farmer’s sakes.
Licensed livestock proofing courses under professional tuition are a viable addition to the options for controlling dogs who might escape to chase.
Dogs do not chase animals they have been trained to avoid.