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.