The National Sheep Association has called on the government to put a stop to shocking incidents of livestock worrying by dogs.
The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill – currently progressing through parliament – offers a opportunity to bring much needed action, said NSA chief executive Phil Stocker.
“Simply including the instruction for dogs to be on a lead when in the proximity of, or likely to come into contact with grazing livestock, would reduce these terrible incidents and by increasing the fines would act as a deterrent.”
Mr Stocker said the NSA had recently received a spate of reports, he said, highlighting a worrying increase in the number of dog attacks on sheep.
The UK quite rightly demanded high standards of animal welfare in farming, he added. It was therefore ludicrous for the government to continually ignore the stressful impact of dog attacks not only on sheep – but also on farmers.
A number of cases reported recently include sheep killed by a train after a dog chased them onto a railway line. In another case, the RSPCA were alerted after a sheep was chased off of a cliff by a dog.
As spring approaches, the situation could worsen with more dog walkers visiting the countryside. The consequences of dog attacks on in-lamb ewes mean sheep worrying is an even more serious issue than at other times of year.
Mr Stocker said he applauded action being taken in Scotland. Recently strengthened legislation has seen penalties for owners who let their dogs attack livestock increased to a maximum fine of £40,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment.