The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has welcomed a call by North Wales police earlier this month to review legislation pertaining to the 1953 Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act in a bid to reduce the number of dog attacks on livestock in Wales.
Current interpretation of the 1953 Act means that Police cannot seize a dog and keep it if the owner is known; even if the same dog is responsible for multiple attacks. A court has no power to ban an offender from getting another dog following a conviction.
Dr Hazel Wright, FUW Senior Policy Officer said: “Livestock worrying continues to be an important issue for FUW members and the Union has repeatedly documented the wide-reaching emotional and financial damage that dog attacks can cause.
“Livestock worrying is complex and we continue to be frustrated that livestock attacks by dogs show no sign of abating. Despite significant industry investment, many members of the public remain unaware that their family pet can attack, injure or kill livestock.”
Many dog attacks happen by unaccompanied dogs that have strayed from the home environment and messages about keeping dogs on a lead near livestock can therefore only form part of the solution. The FUW therefore welcomes the call by North Wales police to further scrutinise existing legislation in order to make it fit for purpose and to proactively prevent dog attacks.
Figures demonstrate that livestock worrying could cost the sheep sector around 1.3 million pounds per year and this is a substantial amount of money for a sector which continues to suffer from low profitability.
“Business losses include loss of stock, production decreases due to stress, abortions and the loss of future earnings from stock. These costs can be significant and are coupled with insurance costs, veterinary bills and carcase disposal.
“Most members of the public are able to use the countryside without incident. However, farmers must be able to protect their animals and safeguard their businesses and it is essential that positive legislative changes are made in order to reduce the number of incidents and improve both dog and livestock welfare in Wales,” added Dr Wright.