Friday, 23 April 2021

Keep dogs on lead in fields plea

DOG walkers have been urged to keep their pets on leads around livestock.

The Chilterns Conservation Board, which is responsible for the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has issued the warning as this year’s lambing season approaches.

It says dogs will instinctively chase sheep, causing ewes to terminate pregnancies or die from stress or exhaustion. Dogs can also severely injure or kill the animals if they catch them.

The board, which is campaigning with the National Farmers’ Union under the slogan Take The Lead, says many people bought dogs during the coronavirus pandemic but may not know about the risks.

A spokeswoman said: “Most dog owners behave responsibly but, sadly, a minority allow their pets to run freely in fields.

“Young livestock is particularly vulnerable so take extra care and avoid an animal welfare tragedy.”

Earlier this year, Woodcote gamekeeper Chris Goodman warned he might have to shoot loose dogs following incidents in which they “worried” livestock, for which owners can be prosecuted.

Farmer Tracey “Bill” Betteridge, of Chiltern Lamb, who keeps her flock across several sites in and around the Hambleden valley, has lost many animals to attacks over the years.

• Dogs left unsupervised in gardens could be at risk from “dogknappers” taking advantage of soaring prices for lockdown pets, according to rural insurance company NFU Mutual.

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