Government backs bill to tackle dog attacks on livestock
5th February 2024
The UK government has backed new legislation to tackle livestock worrying. The new measures aim to reduce dog attacks on animals and help secure successful prosecutions that recognise impacts of the attacks on farmers and their businesses.
Livestock worrying, when dogs chase, attack, or cause distress to livestock, can result in significant injury and suffering, and in the worst cases, the death of the animals involved. These incidents are also distressing for livestock keepers and can have significant financial costs.
Financial and emotional impact on farmers
Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) Bill – a Private Members’ Bill sponsored by Dr Thérèse Coffey MP – the police will be given greater powers to respond to livestock worrying incidents more effectively, making it easier for them to collect evidence and, in the most serious cases, seize and detain dogs to reduce the risk of further attacks.
Since the original 1953 Act was brought in, the number of livestock in England and Wales has doubled, with more people visiting the countryside. By supporting the Bill, the government says it is delivering on pledges made in its Action Plan for Animal Welfare and recognising the financial and emotional impacts farmers face as a result of dog attacks on livestock.
Dr Coffey said: “We have heard from the police that they need more up to date powers to help them identify the dogs that are attacking and worrying livestock, and subsequently their owners. It is great to get out and enjoy nature, but dog owners should be careful and ideally put their dogs on a lead when on or near a working farm to avoid such attacks.”
The Bill would modernise existing legislation to ensure it remains fit for purpose, including extending the livestock definition to include alpacas and llamas and widening locations where enforcement can be taken to roads and paths, the government says.
It will also address current enforcement challenges and give the police more powers to seize dogs after serious incidents and greater powers of entry, as well as the power to take evidence samples from livestock and dogs to help investigate these crimes.
Read more livestock news here.