Dog owners are being warned to keep their animals under control around livestock as lambing season approaches.
Lambs are a desirable target to dogs left free to run on footpaths in fields used for grazing. In Spring 2021 Kent Police recorded a total of 29 attacks on livestock in the county which left many animals maimed with a significant number having to be euthanised.
Officers from the Rural Task Force now carry DNA testing kits to swab animals that have been attacked, allowing them to ensure they correctly identify the dog responsible for any livestock worrying incident.
Sergeant Darren Walshaw of the Rural Task Force said: ‘It is important that dog owners take their responsibilities seriously and keep their pet on a lead near livestock. Under the Animals Act of 1971, a farmer has the legal right to kill a dog attacking their livestock, so an owner is actually risking their dog’s life by letting it roam.
‘Attacks on sheep, cattle and other livestock have significant financial implications on the farmers who have to bear the costs of veterinary treatment or the loss of an animal.
‘It is worth noting that even if a dog does not physically attack livestock, allowing them to chase and worry animals is an offence and we have investigated incidents where pregnant ewes have aborted their lambs after being chased whilst grazing.
‘Our advice is simple, when walking your dog, if there is livestock nearby, put your pet on a lead.’