Livestock worrying - What you should know
'Livestock worrying' is a term which is used when a dog is loose around farm animals on agricultural land and whose actions could cause injury or suffering, such as frightening, chasing or physically attacking them.
Dog owners are being reminded that with the lambing season now underway, they must keep their pets on a lead near livestock to help stop animals being hurt or killed.
It is a criminal offence to allow your dog to do such 'worrying' and under the law a dog worrying livestock can be shot and killed. Owners who do not keep their dog under control can face a fine of up to £1,000. In 2018, Northamptonshire Police received at least 30 reports of livestock worrying, including instances of sheep found dead or injured.
Incidents of livestock worrying should be reported to police on the non-emergency 101 number. If a dog is in the process of worrying livestock and cannot be stopped, dial 999.
Anyone who shoots a dog to prevent livestock worrying must notify police within 48 hours.
Animals classed as livestock include sheep, cattle, goats, pigs, horses, donkeys, mules and poultry, including chicken, turkeys, geese and ducks.
Agricultural land includes land used as arable, meadow or grazing land, for poultry farming, pig farming and market gardens, as well as allotments, nursery grounds and orchards.
Tips for safe and responsible dog walking around livestock
- Keep dogs on a lead and under control when walking through fields of livestock
- Always stick to public rights of way and leave all gates as you found them
- If you live beside land where livestock is grazed ensure you know where your dog is at all times, and keep your property secure so your dog cannot escape
- Cows can be curious and may follow walkers. If this happens, keep facing the animal and move calmly and slowly, don’t turn your back to it or run
- Steer well clear of young animals and do not try to pet them. Cows with calves will be protective and may become aggressive
- If you feel threatened by cattle when with a dog, let go of the lead so you and the dog can get to safety separately
Information courtesy of Northants Police