Now that springtime is here, and the weather gets warmer, more people may be ready to get out and about in our more rural spots.
While we want people to be able to enjoy the countryside, it is important people keep their dogs on a lead and under close control to avoid causing any unintentional injury or distress to sheep or cattle.
It’ll also help ensure you keep yourself and your pet safe while walking on public footpaths through fields or agricultural land.
Sergeant Chris Wilkinson, who leads the Derbyshire Rural Crime Team, said: “While you may feel your dog is quite docile, friendly or playful, and unlikely to chase livestock, you cannot know how your dog will behave in different situations. Farm animals can be very protective, particularly during lambing season and when they have young. This can often cause them and in turn your dog to behave differently.”
“There have been numerous incidents in Derbyshire where animals have been attacked or died after being frightened resulting in both financial and emotional loss to Farmers. That’s why we’re encouraging people to keep dogs under control and on leads around livestock, even if you can usually trust your pet to return to you when called.”
Tips to stay safe while near livestock with your dog:
- If you enter a field, stay vigilant as you may not be able to see the whole field and animals grazing straight away.
- Keep your dog on a short lead around cows and sheep, but release if threatened by cattle so you can both get to safety separately.
- If cattle start to follow, stay calm and walk quickly and quietly around the herd.
- Don’t get between cows and their calves. Walk round the herd and re-join the path when safe.
- If you feel threatened by animals, try not to panic and don’t run. Move to the edge of the field and, if possible, find another way round.
- And remember to clean up after your dog wherever you are in the countryside.
Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, if a dog worries sheep on agricultural land, the person in charge of the dog is guilty of an offence.
The act considers sheep worrying to include attacking sheep, chasing them in a way that may cause injury, suffering, abortion or loss of produce, or being at large (i.e., not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.
You can find advice and information on the Countryside Code here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code/the-countryside-code-advice-for-countryside-visitors
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