Dogs chasing sheep can read like a minor incident even the term “worrying” is rather a soft sounding term. However the harsh reality of an attack is very different.
You WILL see in most cases horrific injuries.
* Sheep in particular are often terrified by a dog and thus they run and seek safety in numbers. This in itself is a welfare issue as the sheep can be in lamb, they can have a full fleece that may be sodden with rain and can quickly get exhausted.
* Sheep can die later from the shock of an attack
* Sheep can also abort their lambs when chased by dogs
* Lambs will get separated from their mothers when the flock panics
* Dogs will chase sheep into rivers and up against fences and livestock will drown or get trapped in the fences.
* Livestock will often have horrific injuries with limbs and body parts exposed that is often beyond the treatment of a vet.
Can a Dog worrying livestock be shot?
The simple clear answer is YES as per the Animals Act 1971.
Under section 9 of that act a person is entitled to act for the protection of livestock if…
* The livestock is on land belonging to him or he has permission to graze/be there
* The dog is worrying or about to worry livestock or the dog has been worrying livestock and not left the vicinity and is not under the control of any persons and there is no practical means of ascertaining to whom the dogs belongs to
* A third party may shoot the dog on behalf of the livestock owner if they are entitled to act for the protection of that livestock
* The police must be notified of the killing or injuring of a dog within 48 hours.
It is a personal decision to shoot a dog and no two circumstances will ever be the same. However, the questions you should be considering prior to using a firearm are
1) Consider your personal safety and the safety of other members of the public.
2) Are my actions lawful? Reasonable and can be justified given the circumstances?
3) Is there a member of the public with the dog? If so consider the public safety issues and offences under the Firearms Act 1968 4) If the dog is simply at large and not attacking or chasing your livestock. Other means of protecting your stock should be explored such as calling the dog warden.
5) You cannot shoot a dog if your livestock has strayed onto land it had no permission to be on.
6) You cannot take the dog away and then shoot it. It has to be shot during the act.
7) If the dog is injured and in your possession you may have to call out a vet as under section 9 of the Animal welfare act 2006 you now become the “responsible” person for that dog and you have a duty to protect it from pain, injury and suffering.
After a dog has been shot you need to be ringing the police on 101 to record the incident straight away and for a police reference number to be generated. In this modern day and age it is unwise to leave it up to 48 hours as per the act.
The police need to be dispatching or making arrangements for an officer to see you to record the incident, record injuries to your livestock and make attempts to trace the owner of the dog.
The dog warden should also be contacted at this stage as they will have microchipping readers and will scan the dog for an owner and also any potential owner will generally contact them first to report a lost dog.
You will also need to update your stock records with the police reference number.
If the dog owner is known please do not use social media to publicise the attack as this can jeopardise any future court case as everybody has the right to a fair trial and everybody in the UK is innocent until proven guilty.