NSA and RSPCA join forces to highlight devastation caused by sheep worrying as we reach the traditional peak time for reported cases

THE NATIONAL Sheep Association (NSA) and RSPCA have united to highlight the potential devastation to farmers and their livestock by attacks from dogs at a time that traditionally sees a peak of cases reported.

Sheep worrying by dogs is a serious issue for sheep farmers, often resulting in injuries and death of affected sheep. The RSPCA’s DogKind report in 2019 revealed that 24% of owners’ dogs had previously chased livestock, wildlife and other animals.

Sam Gaines, dog welfare specialist at the RSPCA, said: “It’s always been a focus for us, especially at this time of year, to hit home the message to dog owners that no matter their dog’s breed, how obedient they are or how strong they think their recall is, the only safe option is to keep their pets on the lead whenever they’re around livestock.”

As Covid-19 restrictions begin to ease, sheep farmers are concerned an influx of walkers, unaware of the risks posed by their canine companions, could result in an even greater number of sheep worrying incidents than has already been seen this year.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “Sheep farmers across the UK have suffered an increase in sheep worrying attacks by dogs over the past year, as dog ownership has increased and walking in the countryside has become one of the few activities to be enjoyed during lockdown – but dog owners must be responsible for their pet. Please keep your dog on a lead whenever there is a chance that sheep could be nearby and avoid walking closely to them if at all possible. You may not consider your dog capable of causing suffering by barking, chasing and attacking sheep, but it is an instinctive response.”

Owners worried about their dog’s behaviour can visit the RSPCA website to find a suitable behaviour expert to help.

Further guidance for dog owners and information on the devastating issue of dog worrying visit www.nationalsheep.org.uk

Image(s) provided by: