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PCC urges dog owners to help keep livestock safe this Spring

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Peter McCall, is urging dog owners to keep their dogs on leads in our rural areas this Spring to help reduce sheep worrying.

Sheep worrying is when, on agricultural land, a dog either attacks sheep, chases them in such a way as to likely cause injury, suffering or abortion of pregnant ewes. Dog owners who are found by police allowing their dog to be off lead and worrying animals can face a fine up to £1000 and farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs that are endangering their livestock.

Since the 1 January 2023, Cumbria Constabulary have received 12 reports of dogs worrying sheep where the dog owner was present. Within these 12 reports, there were 3 incidents resulting in the injury of a sheep and 4 resulting in the death of a sheep.

Speaking on the issue, PCC Peter McCall, said: “We are exceptionally lucky to live in a picturesque, rural county with plenty of walking trails that lead through the countryside.

“However, this privilege does come with responsibility. We have many farmers and agricultural businesses whose livelihoods depend on the health of their livestock.

“It is our duty as dog owners, and owners of dog walking businesses, to ensure that all dogs are kept on a lead when in a field with or near livestock, no matter how well trained these dogs are.

“We have reached that time of year when many ewes are lambing, and these sheep and offspring are highly vulnerable.

“Please keep your dogs on a lead, and respect and enjoy your surroundings.”

Chief Inspector Lee Skelton, Cumbria Constabulary’s Rural Crime Lead, said: “Sheep and livestock worrying is a serious issue that can be very distressing for farmers and livestock owners, who depend on these animals for their income.”

“It is in a dog’s nature no matter how placid they may be to chase and if sheep are chased they become distressed and their instinct is to run, often resulting in horrific injury or death.

“Dog owners must remember to keep their dogs under control and on a lead around farm animals and wildlife.

“We would advise all dog owners and walkers to adhere to the Countryside Code which offers advice on walking dogs responsibly near livestock and wildlife.”

Peter McCall in a rural area with fields and hills in the background

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