Rising sheep attacks. When to keep your dog on the lead
UK farmers have been voicing concern recently over the number of dogs off lead in rural farm areas, leading to another year of high sheep attacks. There was 1,002 attacks on sheep by dogs in 2014, a small decrease from 1,085 in 2013. Figures are not released for 2015, but recent headlines from publications show that we can expect a similar number. Farmers have been quick to label dog owners as irresponsible, but perhaps we need to work harder at educating people on the effects of dogs on sheep?
This week in the Farmers Guardian, NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: "We believe the only way to reduce these figures is through education and the enforcement of regulations. This means encouraging farmers to display signs on footpaths across their land and using the full strength of the law to prosecute owners whose dogs worry sheep."
In a recent article by the Gloucester Citizen following an attack in Huntley, PS Simon Clemett, Rural Environmental Crime Officer for Gloucestershire Police said: "To prevent instances of sheep worrying dog walkers should always keep their dogs on a lead when crossing farm land and must stay to the designated footpath or right of way. Dogs don't need to attack livestock to have a devastating effect. Stress resulting in death or injury can be caused simply by the presence of dogs."
With these thoughts in mind, and with hundreds of popular rural walks across the country, it leads us to the question "how secure is your dog?" We can't deny there is nothing more satisfying than going on long country walks, taking your dog off lead and watching as they run in all directions in excitement for miles, but how well do you know the area you are walking in?
Our advice, look out for signs on farm land and stick to the trails. Take the time to research the area you plan on walking in and know where all the farms in that area are. Be aware of open gates around you, and if you see any livestock across the fields be prepared to put your leash back on. With the law allowing farmers to shoot intruding dogs on their land, and the owner facing prosecution from police, why take the risk? We offer a range of leads suitable for giving your dog the extended length they need to explore the area around them. These leads can also be supported by a secure harness giving you piece of mind and making it more visible to farmers that your dog isn't a stray. If you have any questions about the law, the effects on sheep or any of our leads or harnesses please get in touch via live chat, email or telephone.