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Farmers 'well within their right' to shoot dogs worrying their livestock

While shooting dogs worrying livestock should be the ’last straw’, farmer Gareth Wyn Jones explained how farmers were well within their right to do so.


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Save yourself, your dogs and local livestock and keep your dog on a lead #FGTakeTheLead

Have you got your #FGTakeTheLead signs?

Nobody wants to shoot a dog, but the Animals Act states a farmer is well within his rights to do so if the problem persists.

 

This comes after calls from farmers who felt they were in the wrong for shooting dogs worrying their livestock, and were worried about the repercussions it would cause.

 

Tackling livestock worrying is about education, according to sheep farmer, Gareth Wyn Jones of Llanfairfechan.

 

Education

 

He said: "We have to go back to education. It is ridiculous that people still do not know the difference between going for a walk with their dog on a lead, and going for a walk without a lead.

 

"And it’s causing a whole lot of trouble in the countryside. People think it is their God given right to allow their dogs to wander freely without a lead, without taking into account the horrendous consequences.

 

Safety

 

"We need to educate the nation, and in order to do this, we need to get the Government on board and develop some hard hitting videos explaining how not only could the sheep and dog lose their lives, but the owner could also lose their life as well.

 

"We don’t want to scare people, but this is looking like the only way we can get through to them."

 

Earlier this week, BBC Farming Today released new figures showing at least one dog a week has been shot for livestock worrying in the last five years.

 

’Last straw’

 

"Shooting dogs is the absolute last straw," explained Mr Jones.

 

"As farmers, we don’t want to be going round shooting dogs. We are all animal lovers and if they are anything like me, they spend more time with their sheep dogs than they do their family.

 

"To those farmers worried of repercussions, I would advise them to tell the dog owners what their dogs have been doing, and should they be caught off the lead worrying their livestock again, that dog will be shot.

 

"That way the dog owner has been warned and the farmer is well within his right to do so."

 


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Top Tips

The law

HOW DOES THE LAW PROTECT FARMERS?

The Animals Act 1971 says that where a dog injures livestock the owner is strictly liable.

 

To escape liability, the burden of proof is on the owner of the dog to show that he should not be liable because the farmer/victim is wholly at fault or that he has voluntarily accepted the risk in some way.

 

HOW EASY IS IT FOR FARMERS TO PROSECUTE OWNERS WHOSE DOGS ATTACK LIVESTOCK?

The law is very much in favour of the farmer.

 

However, there have been incidents involving farm animals such as alpacas which are not covered under the Act as ‘livestock’.

 

However, The Animals Act still affords statutory cause of action pursuant to other sections albeit there is a higher hurdle to satisfy first.

 

WHERE DO I STAND IF I SHOOT A DOG WHICH IS WORRYING MY LIVESTOCK?

Technically if a farmer takes matters into his own hands and shoots/injures the dog he is (technically) potentially committing a criminal offence – depending on the facts.

 

You should try to avoid this if possible.

 

However, Section 9 of the Animal Act sets out legal justifications which operate as a defence to any civil claim.

 

FG Take The Lead campaign

FG Take The Lead campaign

With sponsorship from The Original Muck Boot Company, Farmers Guardian has been working alongside the British Veterinary Association and the National Sheep Association to raise awareness of dog attacks via its Take the Lead campaign.

 

We have thousands of livestock worrying signs which you can nail to gateposts or fence posts near footpaths to highlight the problem to walkers.

 

If you would like some of these signs, please send astamped, self-addressed A4 envelope to:

 

FG Take the Lead,

Farmers Guardian,

Unit 4, Fulwood Business Park,

Preston,

Lancashire,

PR2 9NZ.

 

You will need at least three First Class or Second Class stamps on to cover postage costs. We will be able send up to 25 signs.

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