Dog owners are reminded of the importance of keeping their pets under control after a court awarded compensation to a sheep farmer totalling thousands of pounds.

The financial penalty was made after a Kent Police investigation into two linked incidents near Maidstone last year, which led to the death of livestock.

The first incident happened on 22 October 2022 at a field close to Chart Hill Road, when three dogs chased and attacked several ewes which fell into a river and drowned. The dogs also mauled and seriously injured a number of other sheep. On 24 October, the dogs returned to the same location, where they killed another four sheep.

The case was investigated by Kent Police’s Rural Task Force. This led to a hearing at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on 12 June 2023, where a man in charge of the dogs pleaded guilty to two counts of sheep worrying. He was ordered to pay £5,000 in compensation to the owner of the sheep, as well as a fine totalling £1,150.

Sergeant Darren Walshaw of the Rural Task Force said: ‘These were particularly nasty incidents, leading to some distressing injuries and ultimately the deaths of eight sheep, several of whom were pregnant. So far this year, we have seen almost 50 reported incidents of sheep worrying across Kent, and as well as the suffering caused, attacks can lead to huge financial losses for farmers: including vet bills and the cost of replacing the animals.

‘This is a significant penalty and a reminder of why we always urge owners to keep pets under control around any livestock. It is important to also remember that farmers are within their rights to sometimes shoot dogs, if they are deemed to be worrying their flocks.’

Facts about sheep worrying

Under the Animals Act 1971, a person acting to protect livestock may be able to kill or injure a dog that he/she reasonably believes is `worrying’ without incurring any criminal or civil liability.

As a dog owner or a person for the time being in charge of a dog, you could be committing an offence if your pet worries livestock on agricultural land.

Worrying includes attacking or chasing livestock in a way that might reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering or loss.

It can also be an offence to have a dog in a field or enclosed space where livestock is being kept, when the dog is not on a lead or under close control.

By Ed

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