The following article is from the West Mercia Police website.
We can all enjoy the beautiful landscapes and countryside that sheep farming in the UK has played an integral role in creating and maintaining. Farmers appreciate that lots of people like their dog to enjoy the countryside with them, but as much of the UK’s rural landscape is maintained by grazing sheep there is always a strong chance you will encounter some whilst out with your dog.
It is vital that you keep your dog on the lead around livestock, even if you can usually trust it to come to call. If you live in or near a farming area, you must make sure that your dog cannot escape from your property, as it may find its way onto land containing sheep.
It is an offence to allow a dog to worry sheep. Worrying includes attacking or chasing sheep.
Sheep are Valuable Assets and any harm to them, harms a famer’s livelihood.
It is every dogs instinct to chase, even if they are usually obedient and good with other animals. Chasing by dogs can do serious damage to sheep, even if the dog doesn’t catch them. The stress of worrying by dogs can cause sheep to die and pregnant ewes to miscarry.
Sheep fleeing from dogs are often killed or seriously injured by their panicked attempts to escape, causing untold damage to fences and field boundaries in the process.
Dogs chasing lambs can cause mis-mothering issues, with lambs dying from starvation or hypothermia when they become separated from their mother and fail to find her again.
Dog bites can cause death in sheep or necessitate them being put down at a later date, or in less severe cases considerable veterinary bills and additional welfare issues as a result of flies being attracted to the blood and leading to a nasty health problem in sheep called ‘fly strike’. Injuries to sheep can also delay the normal farming routine, be it the mating season or administration of vital medicines and vaccines.
**Please keep dogs on a lead**
The Countryside and Right of Way Act (CROW Act) (Opens in a new window) sets out public rights of access to open land and the restrictions to these rights. Although CROW allows anyone on to open access land (land you can access without having to use paths, including mountains, moorland, heaths, downs and registered common land) for recreation, the Act states that the public can only go on this land if they keep dogs on a fixed lead of 2 metres or less near livestock. The owner of open access land can close areas containing sheep to dogs for up to six weeks once a year, as a safeguard during lambing. Trained guide and hearing dogs are still allowed in these areas during this closure.