These images were captured in South Hams this week where farmer
Rich Rossiter asked “How many more sheep and lambs need to be chased off cliffs, into roads, pushed into cattle grids and bitten…”
He may well ask. It’s not the only recent attack in the area, certainly not a rare occurrence across the country and the figures are not heading in the right direction. Livestock worth an estimated £1.3m were attacked by dogs in 2020, representing an increase of more than 10% on 2019.
Research undertaken by the National Farmers Union underlines some of the reasons why this is getting worse. A survey of 1,200 dog owners found that 88% of respondents walk their dog in the countryside of which 64% allow their dog off lead and 50% admit to poor recall. Only 40% accepted that their dog could harm livestock.
Ewes are in lamb all across the country, with some farms starting lambing this month. Even if a dog does not make contact, those lambs could abort, causing them distress and the farmer huge disruption and losses.
Meanwhile New Forest Commoner Tom Gould lost 18 calves three days ago in 38 cattle due to neospora which is carried in canine faeces.
The message isn’t complex. Pick up waste and put your dog on the lead in the countryside: it’s not your playground, it’s peoples’ homes and supports their livelihoods. Then go and get training.