Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dogs on Telscombe Tye and sheep worrying

Out on the Tye on a very cold and windy afternoon - what happened to the morning's sunshine!

Talking to the local farmer and with media in abundance - Meridian TV (look out for it tomorrow ... maybe), Sussex Express and eventually the Argus.

Telscombe Tye - dog patrol
Raising awareness with dog walkers of the serious risks of their dogs worrying sheep.  Of course most dog owners say their dog would never chase sheep.  I've spoken to people having seen their dog chasing sheep, they always say it's the first time it's ever done it and they've never done it before.

Most people think they can control their dogs but I see too many people shouting at their dogs to call them back and being completely ignored.

It's not the dogs fault.  When instinct kicks in - very few people are able to control their dogs, so don't let it happen in the first place.  Keep your dog on a lead around livestock.

Sheep worrying isn't just about dogs attacking and killing sheep.

Dogs that chase aren't always larger aggressive dogs - ALL dogs have the instinct to chase, as joggers,  cyclists and horse riders know only too well.  The small ones are often the worst.

Dogs don't always chase to kill, the owner may think they're just playing or excited and wouldn't attack but that's not the point.

Sheep on Telscombe Tye
Dogs don't have to attack and kill to cause death, injury or illness.

Even if your dog isn't actually chasing the sheep, sheep still see it as a predator and will run away if it comes close - putting them under stress.
  • If a sheep is stressed by being chased or feeling under threat - it can abort the unborn lambs.

  • A sheep that is ready to give birth and is disturbed by a dog, may miscarry, abort or have premature lambs.

  • A sheep may well die of stress after it's been chased or run away from a dog.

  • Stressed animals are more susceptible to disease and if they have lambs the growth and quality of of the lambs may be affected.

  • New lambs separated from their mother can also die from cold and hunger if they aren't reunited quickly.
As a responsible dog owner and in order to ensure the safety of your dog and livestock you MUST have your dog under close control or on a lead.

A dog owner (or person in charge of the dog) has committed an offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 (the act was added to by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) if their dog worries livestock on agricultural land.

Worrying livestock means:
  • attacking livestock
  • chasing livestock where it may be reasonably expected to cause injury or suffering to livestock, in cause abortion, or cause loss or problems with their produce
  • being at large (i.e. not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep
If you allow your dog to worry livestock or you don't have it under control, your dog could be shot - you could be fined £1000.

If you're out on the Tye or in any area of countryside, please keep your dogs on a lead when around livestock - especially sheep and lambs at this time of year.

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1 comment:

Clare Evans said...

Tonight's piece on ITV Meridian News