NSA survey highlights specifics of dog attacks on sheep

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40% of dog attacks on sheep are carried out by straying or unaccompanied dogs, according to results from latest National Sheep Association (NSA) survey.

The survey taken part in by sheep farmers from across the UK shows no let-up in this ongoing crime which continues to plight sheep welfare, businesses and livelihoods. 72% of respondents said dog owners assuming their pet won’t do any damage to livestock was behind most attacks, with a further 62% saying a lack of concern from pet owners led to attacks taking place. 40% said attacks they had witnessed were carried out by stray or unaccompanied dogs, with 26% saying they’re most commonly alerted to an attack by individuals who are not directly involved.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: “Domestic dogs attacking sheep is sadly an ongoing crime without an easy solution, but to keep talking about it and gathering evidence at every opportunity goes a long way in continuing to highlight the problem. It is vital for dog owners to realise that any dog, no matter how well trained, is capable of attacking livestock and the effects stretch far further than the initial and obvious injuries.”

63% and 67% respectively highlighted death and injury as the most common impact of a dog attack, but 45% said dog attacks were causing a loss of production, most commonly abortion in ewes. 43% reported that sheep had to be put down in the months after an attack. 39% said sheep had experienced an injury from fleeing out of control dogs and 38% experienced a loss of production in lambs due to mis-mothering at a young age.

Police figures continue to highlight a rise in the number of reported dog attacks on sheep, but NSA believes the true extent of the problem is much higher. Just 40% of survey respondents said they report every incident to the police, of which just 18% and 17% were given a crime reference number or crime incident number as a result. 10% of respondents rated police response as ‘very helpful’, but an equal 10% rated it as ‘unresponsive’.

Mr Stocker concludes: “If we’re to build up an accurate picture of the true scale of the problem, it is vital that those who’ve experienced an attack on their livestock report it to the police and ask for a crime or incident number. We have to continue to put pressure on police forces to deal with this crime in a serious and consistent way and if they haven’t the resources to do that then we need to help them build evidence that they are not keeping up with reported crimes. I am afraid that we are hearing of police forces that are making the right noises but still not responding effectively.”

Further details on the survey results and dog worrying can be found at www.nationalsheep.org.uk/dog-owners