Everyone loves the countryside and it’s great that we have so much of it on our door step that we can enjoy with our dogs, however there is a growing problem. With the incidence of sheep worrying increasing by 67% in the last two years, it’s time for a soapbox moment.
It is particularly difficult and distressing subject to discuss but it’s important that we do.
At this time of the year dogs chasing sheep can cause pregnant ewes to miscarry their lambs. Ewes and lambs can be separated when being chased causing mis-mothering issues, with lambs dying from starvation or hypothermia when they become separated from their mother and fail to find her again.
Chasing by dogs can do serious damage to sheep, even if the dog doesn’t catch them. The stress of worrying by dogs can cause sheep to die and they are often killed or seriously injured by their panicked attempts to escape. There have been recent reports on social media of sheep being chased by dogs into rivers and off cliffs where they have died as a result.
It is an offence to allow a dog to worry sheep. Worrying includes attacking or chasing sheep and, in some circumstances, farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs if they are endangering their sheep. The livelihood of the farmer may be dependent on the sheep, to say nothing of the distress to the animals and the upset this can cause the farming family.
It is vital that you keep your dog on the lead around livestock, even if you can usually trust them to come back when you call. Every dog has an instinct to chase and even a normally obedient dog can be difficult to control if that instinct kicks in.
On hills and in fields, it can be difficult to see what is around the corner, so if you know or think that there may be livestock near by, please do the right thing and keep your dog on a lead for everyone’s safety.