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HomePet NewsDog NewsSidetracked dog owners putting Cornwall's sheep at danger of "dreadful" injuries

Sidetracked dog owners putting Cornwall’s sheep at danger of “dreadful” injuries


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Brand-new research study by NFU Mutual exposes that almost 2 thirds of dog owners state their animal chases after other animals

Author: Sophie SquiresReleased 47 minutes earlier
Last upgraded 46 minutes earlier

Sidetracked dog owners who think their family pets would never ever assault stock are putting animals in Cornwall and Devon at greater danger of dreadful and deadly injuries, brand-new research study from NFU Mutual exposes.

The rural insurance company’s newest study of over 1,100 dog owners launched today (Tuesday 7 February) discovered that regardless of 64% of owners confessing their dogs chase animals, almost half (46%) think their dog was not efficient in hurting or eliminating animals.

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They state that numerous dog owners are uninformed that even if their animal doesn’t reach a sheep, the distress and fatigue triggered by being chased after can activate a pregnant ewe to pass away or miscarry. Young lambs can likewise end up being separated from their moms.

Almost 2 thirds of owners (64%) state they let their dog wander off-lead in the countryside. Nevertheless, almost 4 in 10 (39%) confess that their family pets do not constantly return when called.

NFU Mutual estimates South West farm animals worth £273,429 were severely injured or killed by dogs in 2022, making it the second worst affected region by cost in England.

Across the UK, dog attacks on farm animals cost an estimated £1.8m in 2022.

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Phoebe Ridley, from NFU Mutual South West, said: “It’s clear that a significant number of dog owners are blinded by their love for their family pets and believe that they would never chase, attack or kill livestock.

“We’ve heard reports from farmers in Devon and Cornwall that dog walkers are becoming more distracted, often on their mobile phones with their pets out of sight, and seemingly unaware of the carnage their dog could cause.

“The Covid-19 pandemic saw a boom in dog ownership as many people purchased puppies for the first time, yet these may not have been trained properly or be familiar with stock.

“It is concerning that these now fully-grown dogs will be visiting farmland as we get into spring at a time when pregnant ewes and newborn lambs are vulnerable.

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“Farmers near cities, towns and our many tourist areas together with those grazing sheep on Dartmoor, Exmoor and Bodmin Moor are also living in fear of repeat attacks, which cause horrific suffering to sheep and can also traumatise their families as they deal with the aftermath.

“That is why we are calling for dog owners to be responsible and accept their pets, however friendly, are capable of chasing and attacking stock and should be kept on a lead when walked anywhere near animals.”

A/PS Martin Beck, Rural Affairs Officer for Devon and Cornwall, added: “The Police Rural Affairs Team are supporting the NFU Mutual’s message asking people to think about their dogs behaviour especially near livestock and ground nesting birds.

“We ask that you stop and think about the consequences of being sidetracked and not controlling your dog better.

“Not only is livestock worrying a criminal offence it is regarded as rural anti-social behaviour. Sadly, incidents of livestock worrying have terrible consequences for the farmer and dog owner and we want to make sure we do all we can to tackle it.

“You might not think your dog would harm sheep or other livestock by chasing or attacking the animals, until it happens and by then it’s too late. Our message is to help ‘Take the Lead’ and keep your dog on a short lead around livestock, even if you can usually trust it to come back when called.”

With many dog owners planning to visit the countryside in Devon and Cornwall as the weather improves and at a time when sheep are at their most vulnerable, NFU Mutual is calling for them to:

  • Keep dogs on a lead when walking in rural areas where livestock are kept but let go of the lead if chased by cattle
  • Be aware that even small dogs can trigger the distress, injury and death of stock
  • Report attacks by dogs to the police or local farmers
  • Never let dogs loose unsupervised in gardens near livestock fields – numerous attacks are triggered by dogs which escape and attack sheep grazing neighboring

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