The National Sheep Association (NSA) has demanded meaningful action on legislation surrounding the devastating issue of sheep worrying by dogs in a letter sent to the Secretary of State, Therese Coffey, and Farming Minister, Mark Spencer.

The action follows alarming findings and feedback from a recent survey by NSA that has shown sheep farmers across the country are experiencing an increasing occurrence of dog attacks on their livestock and dealing with the ongoing devastating impact of these.

A rise in attacks on sheep has also been widely documented across social media with shocking accounts shared by farmers who have been through the distress of sheep worrying. NSA demands that the impacts and suffering cannot be allowed to continue unchecked.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: “Westminster has been sitting on key legislation (in the Kept Animals Bill) that would be a significant tool in the box to tackle sheep worrying, since summer 2021.

“The Government must recognise its own increasing priorities on animal health and welfare, priorities shared by industry, yet these delays are allowing ongoing attacks on livestock to occur. 95% of respondents from NSA’s recent survey indicated they had between one and 10 attacks on their flocks in 2022 – to continue without action puts further risk to animal suffering.

“It is abhorrent that 44% of respondents indicated their animals died from a dog bite during attack, 41% reported death as a direct result of being chased, and 39% indicated sheep had to be put down after a sheep worrying incident.”

NSA has been encouraged by the Scottish Government’s appreciation of the devastating impacts on animal welfare of this issue and subsequent action with the introduction of Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2021. This legislation imposes a maximum fine of £40,000 or 12 month prison sentence to those found guilty of allowing their dogs to worry livestock, a far cry from the menial £1000 proposed under English legislation.

Mr Stocker concludes: “It is really disappointing that nearly three years on from the introduction of the Kept Animals Bill to Parliament, attacks on livestock are increasing in occurrence and severity. NSA is exasperated there is still no appreciable accountability for dog owners and the disastrous impact their dogs can have on livestock.

“The livestock farming industry is increasingly challenged to raise levels of health and welfare, and in most cases is responding positively, to allow this to be undermined with inadequate checks on out of control dogs is a failure to animal welfare.”

Read more on sheep worrying here

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