NFU teams with police in call for responsible dog walking

Farmers have noticed an increase in dog attacks on livestock over the last 18 months
Farmers have noticed an increase in dog attacks on livestock over the last 18 months

The NFU has joined with partners including the police and National Trust to encourage the public to put pets on a lead when walking near livestock.

The number of dog attacks on farm animals remains high, according to the latest figures, and attacks are impacting farmers’ livelihoods.

It comes as producers have seen an above average number of people and pets in the countryside following the start of the pandemic last year.

In an attempt to combat this, the NFU has joined with the National Trust and Surrey Police as part of an awareness event taking place on Tuesday 10 August.

The union has already successfully campaigned for changes to the law to curb out-of-control dogs, and is now calling for leads to become law when dogs are walked near farm animals.

Surrey NFU adviser Romy Jackson said about the event: "We hope to explain how farmers play a vital role in the management of the Surrey Hills, producing our food and caring for this wonderful landscape.

"We encourage people to show appreciation by keeping dogs on leads around livestock and picking up their poo which can be harmful to animals, especially cattle."

Last month, the NFU released the results of a survey that found almost nine out of 10 (82%) people said that visiting the countryside had improved their wellbeing.

Many rural tourist spots are on working farmland, with farmers and landowners maintaining footpaths and public rights of way so visitors can enjoy the countryside.

One of the key lessons learned from the Covid-19 outbreak has been the importance of people adhering to the Countryside Code when they visit the countryside for exercise or recreation.

However, the sheer volume of visitors during lockdown subsequently did cause issues in some areas, with an increase in dog attacks and trespass incidents.

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, Ellie Vesey-Thompson said: “I am concerned that farmers in our rural communities have noticed an increase in dog attacks on animals.

“I urge all dog owners to remember that livestock worrying is a crime that has a devastating impact both emotionally and financially.

"When walking your dog near livestock please ensure it is on a lead so that such incidents can be avoided and we can all enjoy our wonderful countryside.”

The awareness event will commence at 10:30am at the National Trust’s Polesden Lacey, near Dorking, Surrey.