Findings of a recent survey completed by the National Sheep Association (NSA) have revealed that less than 5% of sheep farmers receive direct contact from the owners of dogs that have been involved in a sheep worrying attack on their livestock.

With almost 60% of survey respondents finding evidence of an attack having taken place rather than being alerted by the owner or another witness of an incident the result suggests animals are often likely to be left suffering and injured for a period of time causing extreme distress to the sheep and also the farmer on discovering the upsetting scenes.

NSA is therefore calling on dog owners to take responsibility for the attacks should their dog be involved in chasing and/or attacking sheep.

As the government’s new draft Kept Animals Bill is proposing greater powers for police to trace and gain access to dogs involved in attacks this could create an improved situation for those involved.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker commented: “It may feel daunting as a dog owner to come forward to a farmer to admit responsibility, but NSA believes that farmers would rather be informed by the dog owners themselves rather than finding injured, or even worse, dead sheep in their fields.

“Sheep worrying by dogs is a crime but openness from the dog owner can mean a more amicable resolution can hopefully be achieved and it is better than having to explain a failure to report if the dog is able to be traced.

"Often dog owners simply do not realise their pet is capable of doing so much damage, and while we appreciate this crime is not one that any animal lover would set out to commit, taking responsibility is crucial and could help reduce cases for the future.”