The RSPCA has issued advice to dog owners on the hazards of allowing their pets to be out-of-control around vulnerable livestock.
With the traditional lambing season approaching and reports of dog attacks on sheep increasing, the National Sheep Association (NSA) and RSPCA have teamed up to urge dog owners to take extra care.
Every year, sheep are killed, maimed and miscarry because of being chased and attacked by dogs.
This is a serious animal-welfare concern and also causes emotional stress and financial cost to sheep farmers around the country.
These types of incidents occur in Northumberland and the RSPCA advice was issued in the latest edition of Coastal Views – the newsletter of the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The news item, titled Take Care During Lambing Season, includes guidelines to help prevent attacks on livestock.
These include: Watch for signs warning of livestock and keep your dog on a lead around farm animals and in areas you suspect animals may be grazing, or avoid them completely;
○ If your dog chases sheep, report it to the farmer even if there is no apparent injury as the stress of worrying by dogs can cause sheep to die and pregnant ewes to miscarry;
○ Make sure your dog is wormed regularly and pick up its mess to stop diseases spreading.
Advice to farmers includes: Put up signs warning dog owners where livestock is grazing and keep fencing in good repair;
○ Always report an incident to the police.
Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive, said: “A growing number of our members continue to tell us of some horrendous attacks they have suffered to their livestock. It is not only the harrowing injuries which out-of-control dogs have inflicted, but also the losses they have suffered as a result of dogs simply chasing livestock.”
NSA can supply sheep-farming members with free hard-wearing plastic dog-control signs, carrying the NSA/RSPCA logos.
As part of the NSA’s involvement in the Farmers Guardian Take The Lead Campaign, red laminated signs are available for non-members.