Livestock worrying

It is a criminal offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 if a person's dog worries livestock on agricultural land. Worrying is defined as attacking livestock, chasing livestock in such a way that it may be reasonable to expect the dog to cause injury or suffering to livestock as well as abortion in female animals, and being at large (not under close control or on a lead) in a field or enclosure where there are sheep.

Irresponsible dog ownership can lead to restrictions on dogs, increased costs and injured livestock. It is rare for the majority of owners to intentionally cause problems for landowners as they mainly occur due to unclear signage, seasonal signs being left up all year reducing credibility and, in general, a lack of awareness where certain behaviours are acceptable and where they are not. The Kennel Club believes that by educating the public and cooperating with organisations such as the National Farmers Union, livestock worrying incidents will decrease and ultimately improve relations between farmers and dog owners.

The Kennel Club believes that there is not a blanket solution for every farm or estate. For the most common livestock worrying issues, the Kennel Club would recommend a number of options which can help reduce problems. These solutions include the following: improving signage, identifying where off-lead is not a problem, signposting alternative or better routes, speaking with visitors, changing where feeders and other equipment are placed, re-rerouting paths, fencing off paths, involving dog wardens, applying for a restriction on access land or requesting a public spaces protection order. However, the Kennel Club believes that any restriction imposed on access to dog walkers needs to be proportionate and evidence based.

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