Dog owners are being reminded to keep their pets on a lead when walking near livestock to prevent animals being injured or killed.
Livestock worrying is the term used to describe a dog being loose around farm animals, chasing them in a way which could cause injury or suffering, or attacking them. Animals classed as livestock include sheep, cattle, goats, pigs, horses, donkeys, mules and poultry, including chicken, turkeys, geese and ducks.
Owners are legally responsible for keeping their dog under control, and the criminal offence of livestock worrying carries a fine of up to £1,000. Under the law, a dog worrying livestock can also be shot.
PC Abbey Anstead, Wildlife and Rural Crime Officer with Northamptonshire Police, said: “With many animals now having young at foot, we want to make sure dog owners know how to behave responsibly around livestock to keep all animals, including their pets, safe.
“Being alarmed, chased or attacked by a dog can have serious and even fatal effects on both young and adult animals, as well as being devastating for their owners emotionally and financially.
“We want everyone to be able to enjoy Northamptonshire’s beautiful countryside safely and responsibly, so please always keep your dog on a lead around livestock on any agricultural land. This includes land used as arable, meadow or grazing land, for poultry farming, pig farming and market gardens, as well as allotments, nursery grounds and orchards.”
Incidents of livestock worrying should be reported to police on the non-emergency 101 number. If a dog is in the process of worrying livestock and cannot be stopped, it can be reported on 999. If a dog is shot to prevent livestock worrying, police must be notified within 48 hours.
Tips for safe and responsible dog walking around livestock
- Keep dogs on a lead and under control when walking through fields of livestock
- Always stick to public rights of way and leave all gates as you found them
- If you live beside land where livestock is grazed ensure you know where your dog is at all times, and keep your property secure so your dog cannot escape
- Cows can be curious and may follow walkers. If this happens, keep facing the animal and move calmly and slowly, don’t turn your back to it or run
- Steer well clear of young animals and do not try to pet them. Cows with calves will be protective and may become aggressive
- If you feel threatened by cattle when with a dog, let go of the lead so you and the dog can get to safety separately
Download a leaflet on the Countryside Code here: