Livestock worth £1.8m killed and injured by dogs in just one year

Farm animals worth an estimated £1.8 million were killed or injured by out-of-control dogs in only one year, NFU Mutual says.

Farm animals worth an estimated £1.8 million were killed or injured by out-of-control dogs in only one year, NFU Mutual says.

The Rural Crime Report 2023 conducted by NFU Mutual shows that the cost of dog attacks on livestock increased by more than 50% between 2019 and 2022. The reason for this can be that puppies purchased over the pandemic came of age.

Often, out-of-control dogs attack farm animals, leaving them to suffer and die from their injuries. Many animals have also drowned, suffocated, fallen off cliffs or miscarried after being chased by dogs.

NFU Mutual’s latest survey of over 1,100 dog owners found that almost half (46%) believed that their dog was not capable of injuring or killing livestock. However, 39% of respondents admitted that their pets do not always come back when called.

Dogs on leads

Despite advice being given to keep dogs on leads, at the end of last year, 25 sheep were killed in four separate incidents, and three dogs were shot because of the unfolding shocking scenes in Cheshire.

The Cheshire Police Rural Crime Team has been urging dog owners, whether they know their rural environment well or not, to keep dogs on leads to prevent more livestock deaths, especially if they are in unfamiliar territory.

Wildlife and rural crime officer Jim Clark said: “It is vital that you keep your dog on the lead around livestock, even if you can usually trust it to come to call. If you live in or near a farming area, you must make sure that your dog cannot escape from your property, as it may find its way onto land containing sheep. Dogs should only be released from a lead if walkers are followed or chased by cattle.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry by using your lead to control your dog. This should avoid not only the devastation and financial cost to the farmer who has lost his or her sheep, but the trauma to the dog owner from their dog’s actions, and the thought it could have been shot to prevent further devastation.

“I’d simply urge owners, no matter how reliable you think your dogs are, keep dogs on a lead near livestock. You can also show that you care for all animals by taking the #OpRecall pledge here and do your bit in keeping all animals safe.

“We want everyone to enjoy the countryside safely and responsibly. Take a look at the countryside code to see how you can do your bit.”

Sheep worming article on livestock farming website

Be responsible for your dog

NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist, Hannah Binns, added: “It is hard for people to imagine their friendly family pet could chase, injure or kill another animal, but all dogs are capable of this, regardless of breed or size. NFU Mutual’s latest data estimates farm animals worth £1.8 million were severely injured or killed by dogs in 2022, and early indications suggest the cost has risen again in 2023.

“Even if the dog does not make contact with the sheep, the distress and exhaustion from being chased can cause a pregnant ewe to miscarry or die and also separate young lambs from their mothers.”

Ms Binns added that NFU Mutual has been calling for dog owners to be responsible when out exploring the countryside and to keep their dogs on a lead around livestock. If there is an attack, it is important that people accept responsibility and report it, either to the police or a local farmer, so that the injured animals are not left suffering.

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