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Responsible dog ownership vital to protect livestock


February 10, 2024 - 298 views

As the days lengthen and more of us are getting out into the countryside, people are being reminded to keep their dogs under control around livestock.

With lambing season well underway, and ewes and lambs a common sight in fields across Wales, Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths and Rural and Wildlife Crime Coordinator Rob Taylor want to ensure dog owners understand their responsibilities. 

Sadly there continues to be too many dog attacks on sheep and other livestock which have emotional, financial and animal welfare implications.

Research has found most incidents involving dogs attacking sheep take place on land not accessible to the public.

Dog owners should familiarise themselves with Natural Resources Wales’ Countryside Code. This includes:

- Keeping dogs on a lead or in sight and owners should be confident they will return on command
- Dogs should not stray from the path or area where there is a right of access
- On open access land, dogs must be on a lead between 1 March and 31 July, even if there are no livestock present. This is a legal requirement.

Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths said: "Responsible dog ownership is key in keeping lambs, sheep and all other livestock safe.

"We know most dog owners do the right thing in keeping their dogs under control, but there are some who do not.

"There have been harrowing images of when attacks do happen and by taking the appropriate steps these can be prevented."

Wales Rural and Wildlife Crime Coordinator, Rob Taylor said: "Attacks on livestock are completely preventable through responsible dog ownership. Sadly, attacks on pregnant ewes or newborn lambs at this time of year do still occur.

"We ask that owners are aware of the risks, use a precautionary approach in controlling their dog and understand the route on which they take them to exercise.

"An attack on livestock may result in their pet being shot, or euthanised on a court order. Nobody wants to see that happening."