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More than one dog shot a week for livestock worrying - new figures reveal

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


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The figures show at least 305 dogs have been shot on private land for sheep worrying in the last five years, in England and Wales.

 

This equates to more than one dog a week, according to BBC Farming Today.

 

Discrepancies

 

The figures for England and Wales, obtained through a Freedom of Information Request, show the number of dogs shot for worrying livestock between January 2010 and December 2015.

 

Out of the 43 police forces contacted, 16 were unable to provide information.

 

This is because shooting a dog which is worrying livestock is not an illegal offence, so police would not necessarily keep records, meaning the actual number of dogs shot could be a lot higher than 305.

 


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Figures

  • The highest number of reports was from West Yorkshire Police, where 54 dogs were shot
  • Durham police reported 33 dogs shot
  • Cumbria police reported 30 dogs shot
  • The highest number of reported shootings in Wales was 25 from South Wales Police.

Earlier this year, farmer Gordon Wyeth lost 116 sheep to a dog attack in what has been describes as the 'worst ever' sheep worrying incident in living memory.

 

Investigations by Farmers Guardian have found, these attacks show no signs of slowing down, as for the third year running the number of dog attacks on livestock has surpassed 1,000.

 

Law

 

Along with many farmers throughout the UK, Mr Wyeth said 'the law is not strong enough'.

 

Currently the law states a dog owner found guilty of allowing their dog to worry livestock may face a fine of up to £1,000.

 

Robert James of Thrings Solicitors explained how the law protects farmers from these attacks:

 

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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