sheep worriersDogs love the countryside. But however docile your pet, all have a natural instinct to chase other creatures, whether they be rabbits, sheep or ground nesting birds, like grouse. Man's best friend may be pottering along quite happily beside his or her owner, but a sudden movement in the bracken or the scent of a grazing animal may be all it takes to trigger this impulse. However obedient, when a dog is in the throws of a chase, the creature's single-minded determination means it may be very difficult to call him off.
Each year thousands of sheep are killed or injured by dogs and the behaviour of unruly mutts can have an adverse affect on a farmer or landowner's welcome for walkers.
Where a walk passes through sheep grazing land, it's always best to keep your dog on the lead. If you don't, it's worth bearing in mind that the law allows farmers and landowners to shoot dogs that are worrying livestock, or sue the owner for any damage.
There are various pieces of legislation that every dog owner venturing into the countryside needs to be aware of. For starters, the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 is designed to punish the owner of any dog found worrying livestock on agricultural land. The term 'livestock' covers sheep, cattle and poultry, among others, while 'agricultural land' includes grazing land, such as hillsides and moorlands where sheep are to be found.
For this piece of legislation to be used, the dog must be found attacking or chasing livestock or at large, that is not on a lead or under close control, in a field or enclosure containing livestock.
The penalties under Section 3 are harsh. If the dog causes harm to someone, the owner or person in charge could be imprisoned for up to two years and fined at the court's discretion.
For a lesser offence such as causing apprehension, the maximum fine is £5,000 or six months imprisonment. Even more serious for the owner is the requirement under the Act that any dog found causing injury under Section 3 must be destroyed.
We've had some horrendous attacks this year and the industry can't take much more."
Graham Hamilton , Farmer
One dog has been shot this year and at the weekend there were three separate incidents of sheep being attacked and lambs being killed.
Alastair Paisley, vice chairman of the Pentland Hills Regional Park committee, said: "We have seen a worrying number of dog attacks on lambs this year - much more than in previous years and we want to put a stop to it."
after a record number of sheep were attacked by dogs in the Pentland Hills. ... And the council said two pregnant ewes were also attacked by dogs. The total number of reported incidents resulting in fatality this year has now ... " Environmental wardens and the Pentlands Hills' rangers have been put on high after a record number of lambs were killed by dogs in the Pentland Hills....
The above information* clearly illustrates that sheep worrying by dogs is a real and ongoing problem throughout the UK Many of us dog owners enjoy taking our dogs out into the countryside to spend time with them in an environment where they can run free and expend excess energy. It is our duty as owners to ensure that this causes no problems to the farm animals and wildlife our pets may come into contact with. The classes I run are specifically tailored to modify the potentially dangerous behaviour that can manifest in any dog of any breed ( no matter how docile they are in their "normal" environment) when they find themselves in this situation.
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