Hampshire law enforcement authorities have issued a caution to pet owners that farmers are permitted to shoot dogs attacking sheep. This warning comes ahead of the upcoming lambing season, where sheep will be birthing lambs countywide. To avoid disturbing pregnant ewes, police are encouraging residents to be proactive and control their dogs effectively.
Can farmers shoot dogs in the UK?
According to a police spokesman, it is illegal for dogs to disturb or harass livestock. The dog owner or handler can face legal action in such cases. Additionally, the farmer is authorized to shoot the dog to cease an attack.
The announcement was made in light of frequent reports received by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary about dogs off leashes worrying livestock.
As reported by the Daily Echo, the spokesman explained the concept of livestock worrying, stating that it happens when a dog chases or attacks livestock on farmland or roams freely in a field containing sheep. Such acts can lead to significant harm or suffering for the livestock, potentially causing death in extreme cases. “This also has devastating consequences for livestock keepers, causing personal distress as well as significant financial costs,” they added.
This offense is categorized under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953.
While most dog owners handle their pets responsibly, a small minority of them negligently endanger the wellbeing of other animals, the spokesman said.
Precautions to take when walking in farmland with a dog
The police highlighted the importance of keeping dogs under strict control in the area of livestock. This can be done either by using a lead or making sure they’re closely monitored.
Even in fields without livestock, if walking your dog, it is important to keep them in your line of sight at all times, being aware of their activities, and making sure they will return to you promptly when called.
In case the dog doesn’t show such compliance, they must not be let off the leash. Finally, ensure your dog stays within the path or area where access is allowed.