Responsible dog walking plea


The NFU is once again hoping to educate dog walkers about the need to use a lead near livestock when in the countryside.

Dog on lead in field with livestock_63946Its livestock farmer members are appealing to dog walkers to #takethelead and use a lead when walking in the countryside during lockdown. Dog owners are also reminded to check properties and gardens are dog proof. The warning comes as 16 million ewes are set to give birth to lambs across the UK between now and late spring. All too often sheep, in particular, end up being killed or horribly mutilated by out-of-control pet dogs.

NFU South East livestock board chairman Ben Robinson, who farms in Hampshire’s Candover valley, said: “The number of dog attacks on livestock across our region remains high, with distressing consequences for both farmers and dog owners whose pet could be shot if it’s caught in the act. Most attacks are completely preventable, so we are appealing to dog owners to keep their dog on a lead around livestock and check that their properties are dog proof. If chased, pregnant ewes (female sheep) can commonly lose their lambs or die from stress and exhaustion.”

Farmer Olly Costar, who farms sheep and cattle near the Thames Path in West Oxfordshire, added: “Our message comes with more and more people out and about walking dogs during this latest lockdown. The vast majority of dog owners behave responsibly, but sadly a minority allow their pets to run freely in fields where farm animals may be grazing. Spring is fast approaching when young livestock are particularly vulnerable, so please take extra care and avoid an animal welfare tragedy.”

The #takethelead messages will be amplified by the NFU on social media this spring and via signs erected by farmers along footpaths.