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Sheep Worrying

Sheep worrying occurs when a dog is either chasing or worrying a sheep to the point where it is reasonably expected that the sheep will endure suffering or injury.
Key Facts
  • Incidents of sheep worrying rose by nearly 30% in 2023
  • The cost of sheep worrying claims in 2023 amounted to £2.4 million for livestock that was severely injured or killed by dogs.
  • Increased housing in rural areas means the chances of attacks have increased rapidly.
  • Sheep worrying can cause ewes to miscarry and lambs to be separated from their mothers.
  • 92 dogs were shot as a result of sheep worrying between 2013 and 2017.
  • In 79% of cases of livestock worrying, the owner of the dog was not present.
What to do if it happens to you
  • Divert or restrict footpaths during lambing season.
  • Report any and all attacks to the police, no matter how small.
  • Put signs up advising dog owners of any livestock that might be in fields.
  • Consider adding a contact number to these signs for reporting any incidents.
  • Social media has become a tool for raising awareness and showing the real damage sheep worrying causes. Share your stories on social media and join community pages so your local area can be informed.
What can dog owners do?
  • If you're walking near livestock, keep your dog on a lead at all time - especially if there are grazing sheep about.
  • Keep a check on fences and gates in order to keep your garden as secure as possible t to prevent dogs getting out.
  • Seek a dog trainer to teach your dog how to behave around sheep and other livestock.
  • Having your dog's favourite toy or ball or 'high value' treats with you when you go out may also make it easier to divert their attention away from sheep and other livestock
What's being done?
  • Police and farming organisations are pushing for a review of the laws around the definition of livestock, the Dangerous Dog Act, and other legislation surrounding the problem to make it a more prosecutable offence.
  • Communities are coming together and forming campaigns such as 'Lead The Way' which aims to challenge the law and tackle the problem head on.
  • A push for dog attacks on livestock to be made a recordable crime.
  • Trialling the use of DNA as a tool to identify offending dogs.

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