Responsible dog walking appeal


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

Its 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.

Dog walker female Labrador on leaD_76666

Surrey NFU chairman Steve Conisbee, who farms near Leatherhead, said: “The number of dog attacks on livestock 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.”

Steve Conisbee_61649

Surrey NFU’s deputy chairman Richard Keen, who farms cattle, sheep and poultry near Dorking, 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.