AS peak summer holiday season arrives in the UK the National Sheep Association (NSA) is issuing a reminder to holidaymakers of the risk posed by their pet dogs to sheep they may meet on their countryside breaks.During walks in the countryside, it is not uncommon to come across grazing livestock including sheep and if a dog is being walked off lead an encounter can result in a chase and in the worst cases physical attacks taking place.It is every dog’s instinct to chase, even if they are usually obedient. Chasing of sheep by dogs can do serious damage through stress and injury. Many sheep fleeing from dogs are often killed or seriously injured by their panicked attempts to escape.
Increasing numbers of holiday makers choosing to stay in the UK to enjoy a summer holiday alongside their dogs has, in recent years, resulted in increased attacks on sheep from dogs whose owners are perhaps not familiar with the area in which they are holidaying and therefore unaware that that sheep and cattle could be grazing nearby.
NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: 'Sheep farmers across the UK have suffered an increase in sheep worrying attacks by dogs over recent years as dog ownership has increased and walking in the countryside has become a more popular pastime. It is crucially important that dog owners must be aware of the serious issue of sheep worrying by dogs and take action to be a responsible dog owner whilst enjoying their holidays this summer.'
NSA is urging dog walkers to keep their pets on leads during walks through the countryside, no matter how obedient they consider their pet to be.
Mr Stocker continues: 'Please keep your dog on a lead whenever there is a chance sheep could be nearby and avoid walking closely to them if at all possible. You may not consider your dog capable of causing physical injury to another animal but barking and chasing are instinctive responses that will cause great stress to sheep and unfortunately in many cases this also leads to physical attacks causing pain and suffering and in the worst incidents even death.'
Information for dog walkers on how to avoid being involved in incidents whilst out enjoying the countryside this summer is available on the NSA website at www.sheepworrying.org.uk