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Could your dog be DNA tested if suspected of a livestock attack?

PUBLISHED: 10:00 23 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:41 23 February 2018

Spring lambs are particularly vulnerable to attacks by loose dogs, said rural insurer NFU Mutual. Picture: Nick Butcher..

Spring lambs are particularly vulnerable to attacks by loose dogs, said rural insurer NFU Mutual. Picture: Nick Butcher..

Nick Butcher Photography 01502 714843

Dog owners could see their pets DNA tested – and find themselves being tried by a judge and jury – under new policing recommendations to stop attacks on farm animals.

Norfolk shepherd David Cross has urged pet owners not to ignore signs aiming to prevent livestock from attack from loose dogs.Norfolk shepherd David Cross has urged pet owners not to ignore signs aiming to prevent livestock from attack from loose dogs.

The National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) has published a report on the growing issue of livestock worrying, and made a series of recommendations on possible improvements to the law.

It follows a report released last week by rural insurer NFU Mutual, which shows the cost of claims for such attacks had risen by 67pc in the last two years, costing the UK agriculture industry an estimated £1.6m a year.

The NPCC’s working group’s recommendations include:

• Making it an offence for dogs not to be kept under control by a fixed lead while in an enclosed area that contains livestock.

Bloodied and stitched, Welsh mule ewes from David Cross's flock which were attacked by a dog in their field at Attleborough. Photo: Bill SmithBloodied and stitched, Welsh mule ewes from David Cross's flock which were attacked by a dog in their field at Attleborough. Photo: Bill Smith

• A power to obtain a dog’s DNA, if the dog was suspected of, or had committed, an attack.

• Making livestock worrying a recordable crime, and triable “either way”, meaning larger-scale attacks could be heard by a Crown Court rather than by magistrates.

Tim Woodward, regional surveyor for the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) in East Anglia, said: “Dog attacks on livestock have a major financial and emotional impact on farmers as well as causing distress, injury and in some cases death to livestock.

“We fully support any extra measures needed to reduce incidences of livestock worrying and to help police investigate the crime.

Norfolk shepherd David Cross has urged pet owners not to ignore signs aiming to prevent livestock from attack from loose dogs.Norfolk shepherd David Cross has urged pet owners not to ignore signs aiming to prevent livestock from attack from loose dogs.

“Alongside this, a new approach is needed to allow farmers to temporarily divert public rights of way where livestock is present. This would provide flexibility for farmers, enhance safety for users and improve animal welfare.”

READ MORE: Shepherd’s warnings over dog attacks

Tim Price, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said under current rules, dog owners are not required to report their dog if it attacks a livestock animal, despite the “horrific injuries” they could cause.

“Attacks by dogs are one of livestock farmers’ worst nightmares,” he said. “We welcome the recommendations of the NPCC working group. We believe these are a step forward which would enable more successful prosecutions of irresponsible dog owners who let their pets roam free and attack livestock.”

Animal welfare minister Lord Gardiner said he would be “looking closely” at the proposals for legislative improvements.

A Norfolk police spokesman said the constabulary could not comment on national policy discussions.

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