Dog attacks on sheep studied

Sheep farmers across the UK have taken part in the survey.
Sheep farmers across the UK have taken part in the survey.

Forty per cent of dog attacks on sheep are carried out by straying or unaccompanied dogs, according to results from the 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.

A total of 72% of respondents said dog owners assuming their pet won’t do any damage to livestock was behind most attacks; 62% said 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; 26% said 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’s vital for dog owners to realise any dog, no matter how well trained, is capable of attacking livestock and the effects stretch far further than the initial and obvious injuries.”

Totals of 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 and 43% reported that sheep had to be put down in the months after an attack. Also, 39% said sheep had experienced an injury from fleeing out of control dogs while 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.

Survey results can be found at www.nationalsheep.org.uk/dog-owners