Sheep across the county will be bearing lambs in a few months’ time, and we are urging people to take care now to ensure they are not disturbing pregnant ewes.
In Hampshire & the Isle of Wight we receive regular reports of livestock worrying involving dogs off leads.
Livestock worrying is when a dog attacks or chases livestock on agricultural land or is at large in a field with sheep, which can result in significant injury or suffering and in the worst cases, death of the animals involved. This also has devastating consequences for livestock keepers, causing personal distress as well as significant financial costs.
Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, it is a criminal offence for a dog to actively worry livestock and dog owners risk prosecution.
We recognise that the majority of dog owners walk their dogs in a responsible manner, but unfortunately there are a small minority whose recklessness puts the welfare of other animals at risk.
Some key points to bear in mind this time of year to help with the welfare of sheep:
If you come across a sheep on its back, try to roll it over and raise the alarm with the farmer if this is possible.
- It is so important to keep dogs either on leads or under close control around livestock.
- If you are walking your dog in a field and there is no livestock, please keep the dog in sight at all times, be aware of what it is doing, and be confident it will return to you promptly on command. If you cannot be confident of this, the dog should not be off the lead.
- Ensure the dog does not stray off the path or area where you have right of access.
- It is a criminal offence for a dog to actively worry livestock. We want owners to be aware that in such instances, the owner or person in control of the dog can be prosecuted, and the dog can by shot by the farmer to end an attack.