Sunday, March 19, 2017

Take the Lead - Dogs, Sheep and Lambs don't mix!

Sheep grazing on Telscombe Tye
Up on the Downs today and again seeing posters and hearing about recent dog attacks.

Dogs don't have to attack and kill to cause death, injury or illness. Even the most faithful of family pets can kill or injure sheep and lambs and sometimes you don't even realise.

Swaledale ewe and lambs
Even if your dog isn't actually chasing sheep, they still see it as a predator and will run away if it comes close or they feel threatened - putting them under stress.
  • A stressed ewe, can miscarry or abort the unborn lambs hours after the dog has left the area.
  • A ewe that is close to giving birth and is disturbed by a dog, may miscarry, abort or have premature lambs.
  • A sheep can die of stress after it's been chased or run away from a dog.
  • Stressed animals are more susceptible to disease and if they have lambs the growth and quality of the lambs may be affected.
  • New lambs separated from their mother will also die from cold and hunger if they aren't reunited quickly or can be rejected.
As a responsible dog owner and to ensure the safety of livestock, you MUST have your dog under close control or on a lead.

'Close control' - means keeping it close to you at ALL times, when walking near livestock. NOT allowing it to wander off away from you. Even if a dog is not interested in or chasing the sheep it can still stress them.

Close control means a short lead or knowing that you can reliably call it back if it wanders off and ensure it will return immediately!

A dog owner (or person in charge of the dog) has committed an offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 (the act was added to by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) if their dog worries livestock on agricultural land.

Worrying livestock means:

- attacking or chasing livestock where it may be reasonably expected to cause injury or suffering to livestock, to cause abortion, or cause loss or problems with their produce.

- being at large (i.e. not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.

If you allow your dog to worry livestock or you don't have it under control, your dog could be shot - you could be fined £1000.

Several times I've spoken to dog owners whose dog has run off after sheep and they are totally unable to call it back. Of course they claim it's never done anything like that before or would never attack but the damage has already been done.

If you are not able to control your dog, make sure it's on a short lead when around livestock, especially pregnant ewes or ewes with young lambs.

Several sheep and lambs have been killed by dogs getting out of their garden. If you let your dog out unattended, make sure it can't get out.

Farmers spend all year looking after their sheep and rely on their lambs for their livelihood. Don't allow your family pet to be the cause of the death of a sheep or lamb.

Thank you.