Livestock worrying – Can a farmer shoot your dog?

Fenton! Fenton! Fenton! Lets put a stop to these scenes.
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Keep your dog on a lead around livestock

Dog behaviour around livestock is a concerningly common issue. More so throughout warmer months when increased numbers of livestock are out living on the pasture.

Dogs should be kept on a lead around livestock, it’s that simple.

If you allow your dog to be in a situation where they end up chasing farm animals, wildlife or other pets it could lead to very serious consequences. And not just an embarrassing viral video, think Fenton.

If your dog is caught worrying livestock you could be sued for compensation, and in certain circumstances farmers are legally entitled to shoot pet dogs if they are endangering livestock. However this is often a last resort, and other means of dealing with the situation should be considered before acting.

The risks of livestock worrying damages

The results of livestock worrying by any dog, big or small can lead to lasting damages to both livestock and farm income. Dog attacks on pregnant sheep can lead to the loss of unborn lambs, life threatening injuries, and the stress of the chase can cause entire herds to collapse due to exhaustion. Even if there is no visual damage caused by a dog, the stress alone is enough to kill a sheep.

A survey from the RSPCA revealed that 37 percent of owners with dogs who have chased livestock didn’t feel that it was a problem. Which is shocking to say the least.

Keep on your toes

Dogs are unpredictable, and that’s including the well trained ones. I’ve seen dogs happily running around a field not giving a single ounce of attention to livestock. But even a dog’s presence in a field can be enough to cause undue stress to livestock.

Livestock worrying - can you trust your dog?

It’s also important to be aware of your surroundings at all times, it can be all too easy to become complacent when walking your dog. At any moment you could walk into or next to a field containing livestock. If you’re not careful your dog could end up in the same field as livestock within seconds. All it takes is one small gap in a hedgerow or fence to lead to tragedy.

Top tips to keep livestock and your dog safe

  • Know where your dog is at all times and don’t let your dog into a new field before you
  • Only let your dog off the lead if you are confident that there are no livestock around
  • If your dog doesn’t promptly return after a recall command keep them on a lead
  • Look for the signs of livestock – poo, feed and tracks. Just because you can’t see livestock it doesn’t mean they are not there

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