Police officers from Hampshire Constabulary’s Country Watch team are issuing a stark warning to dog walkers to ‘keep dogs on leads in rural areas or face possible prosecution’.
The warning follows a number of incidents in the East Hants area whereby owners have been walking with dogs off lead and not under close control. They have subsequently chased or attacked livestock and wild animals. It’s an ever-increasing problem here on the Isle of Wight too.
Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 it is a criminal offence for a dog to actively worry livestock and Police want to make sure owners are aware that in such instances, the owner/person in control of the dog can be prosecuted, and the dog can be shot by the farmer to end an attack.
The Country Watch team will be increasing their proactive patrols of hot-spot areas as the weather begins to improve and the coronavirus restrictions begin to ease.
In addition to increased routine patrols in rural and countryside areas across Hampshire, our officers will also be seeking to utilise the use of drones in areas where we have seen incidents occurring previously. This will allow them to counteract and manage the issue around livestock worrying or animals being attacked by dogs.
The advice to Islanders when walking a dog is to:
- keep your dog on a lead or close control at all times, not just when in a field with livestock
- if there is no livestock in the field, keep the dog in sight at all times, be aware of what it is doing, and be confident it will return to you promptly on command. If you cannot be confident of this, the dog should not be off the lead
- ensure the dog does not stray off the path or area where you have right of access.
Rural and Wildlife Crime Officer, Ian Bassett, said:
“These particular incidents are unfortunately commonplace in rural areas. Livestock worrying offences can cause significant impact financially to a farmer in order to treat injuries or replace the loss of livestock, while having a detrimental effect on the livestock farming business.
“We would urge that owners are fully in control of their dogs, know where they are at all times and confident that they will return when called. This will play a vital role in reducing the number of livestock worrying incidents in rural areas, which can lead to the loss of animal lives or cause undue stress to the animals; all of which has huge ramifications for farmers.
“As always, if you see anything suspicious please dial 101, or report it to us via our online reporting tool on the Hampshire Constabulary. If a crime is taking place please dial 999”.
For more information about the countryside code, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/