The easing of lockdown restrictions has brought yet another warning about dogs – this time involving “pandemic puppies”.
There has been a surge in people buying puppies during the pandemic. Lockdown has meant that owners have not been able to socialise their young dogs with many people or other animals. They haven’t been able to let them experience the wider outdoors either.
As a result, many farmers are concerned that the easing of lockdown coinciding with the peak of lambing season could lead to a rise in attacks on their livestock.
Mark Bridgeman, president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), advises: “Getting a new puppy is an exciting time for everyone, although it is also a huge learning curve.
“Part of that learning curve is teaching your dog how to interact with other animals safely.
“With lockdown restrictions easing up as the crucial lambing season is hitting its peak, we want to help inform the millions of people who are new owners on how to protect their dog and keep farm animals safe, allowing everyone to enjoy the countryside together.”
Police warn that livestock worrying is a criminal offence that carries a 6- month prison sentence and/or a £1,000 fine. Not having the dog on a lead or under close control when near livestock is also an offence.
Tough new legislation is coming into force in Scotland shortly will see fines of up to £40,000, and 12- month prison sentences handed out. The police will also be given far more powers to investigate dog attacks.
Katrina Elsey, personal injury specialist at Atherton Godfrey, commented: “It’s important to make sure dogs are kept under proper control at all times. Aside from the harm the dog can cause to farm animals, there is a significant risk to humans if cattle are frightened. There have been several cases recently of people being killed by cows that had been startled by dogs.
“People also have a responsibility to other dog owners out enjoying the countryside.”
The National Farmers Union Mutual statistics put the cost of dog attacks on farm animals at an estimated £1.3m, an increase of more than 10 per cent last year.