Report shows dog owners not present in 89% of livestock worrying cases

Farmers in Wales, who are frustrated with ongoing livestock attacks, heard what proposed changes to the law could help police forces across England and Wales deal with such incidents more effectively.

Speaking at a livestock worrying information webinar, jointly hosted by the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) and Wales YFC, North Wales Police rural crime team manager and chair of the NPCC (National Police Chiefs Council) Livestock Offences Group, Rob Taylor, explained The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 is “weak and no longer serves its purpose”.

“The act dates from the early 1950s when both farming and policing were practiced differently. We can all agree that both occupations have evolved since then and the act does not reflect modern practices.

For example in 2021, the Act doesn’t allow the police to obtain DNA; it doesn’t allow us to prosecute people; whose dogs have attacked alpacas and llamas; it doesn’t allow us to prosecute if the attack happened on land that’s not agricultural land; and we don’t have an option of banning orders.

In his presentation, PC Dave Allen highlighted some harrowing statistics.

There were 449 recorded cases of livestock worrying from September 1, 2013 to August  31, 2017. The recorded number of livestock killed in that period was 648, while the number of livestock injured was 376. There was also 52 recorded incidents which resulted in the offending dog being shot.

In 89% of recorded cases of livestock worrying, the dog owner was not present and 5% of recorded cases were committed by repeat offending owners/walkers.

“There are 3 types of livestock attack – the escapee; dog exercising off the lead; and dog not under close control; but 99% of the time it’s irresponsible dog owners who are at fault not the dog,” said PC Allen.

‘Stress and heartache’

Speaking after the event, FUW deputy president Ian Rickman said: “Those who have experienced and witnessed such incidents will be all too familiar with the stress and heartache that follows and we will do all we can to support our police forces in getting a change in the law.

“The most important thing any farmer can do to help speed up the process is by reporting livestock attacks to the police.”

Clare James, chairman of Wales YFC Rural Affairs added: “Dog worrying is very much on the agenda for the Wales YFC Rural Affairs committee, with members having felt the impacts of dog attacks directly on their farms.

“We are committed to contribute in tackling the issue and look forward to further working with the FUW and police rural crimes teams across Wales,” she added.