New signs to remind people to keep their dogs under control around livestock have been launched at the Royal Bath and West Show by Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens and the Rural Crime Team.
So far this year there have been a number of sheep attacks across Avon and Somerset, including an incident in April where nearly 40 sheep were killed or died as a result of two dog attacks.
The NFU Mutual estimated that over 18,500 livestock were killed or injured in dog attacks in 2015. The cost of this to farmers was estimated at £1.1m – a rise of 35% on the previous year.
The bright red signs remind dog owners to ‘stop and think’ before entering a field and they can be fitted on a gate or fence post.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “This spring we saw a number of devastating attacks of sheep by dogs. Sheep are highly-strung animals and in lambing season any stress caused to a pregnant ewe can cause them to lose their lambs, which has a massive impact our farmers. This issue is of real concern, particularly because it can be prevented so easily and I’m pleased to be able to support the Rural Crime Team in raising awareness of this upsetting issue."
PC Katy Drabble from the Rural Crime Team said: “Even if you think your dog is placid and friendly, when faced with a field full of livestock they can be unpredictable. It’s simply not worth taking the risk, keep your dog on a lead and away from livestock.
“If your dog is found to be responsible for sheep worrying then as its owner you could find yourself with a large vets bill, prosecution and the strong possibility of your dog being destroyed as a result. We don't want that to happen, we don't want anyone to lose a much loved family pet, so please keep them on the lead.”
PC Drabble added: “We know dog owners love to stroll in the countryside with their pets but we cannot stress enough how important it is to be aware of your surroundings."
Please consider your actions as a responsible dog owner when out and about enjoying the countryside:-
- Always check for livestock in fields when walking your dog/s.
- Always make sure you shut gates behind you.
- When in fields with livestock, it is vital that your dog/s are kept on a lead and under control at all times. The only time you should release your dog is in the event of being chased by cattle. By restraining the dog in this circumstance you are putting yourself at risk of being injured by the cattle.
- If you live near livestock and own a dog/s make sure that your property and garden are secure so your pets cannot escape.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s Rural Crime Team will be handing out the new signs at the Royal Bath and West Show all this week. If you would like a sign please contact the Rural Crime Team direct on email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on Thursday 2nd June 2016