Operation Recall educates dog owners on preventing risks.
A new initiative is to help raise awareness of livestock worrying, by educating dog owners of its danger to livestock and pets.
Operation Recall is encouraging anyone with access to dogs to take a pledge, to demonstrate their commitment to keeping livestock and dogs safe from livestock worrying.
The pledge encourages dog owners to commit to walking their dog on an undamaged and well-fitting lead, and to keeping on designated footpaths. Dog owners are also advised to pay constant attention to what their dog is doing, and keep distractions ready for if there is livestock around.
The project is motivated by research from the National Farmers’ Union which suggested that, as ‘lockdown puppies’ have come of age, incidents of livestock worrying have increased. As well as having a substantial cost to farmers, the RSPCA also report a ‘devastating effect’ on the welfare of livestock.
Livestock worrying occurs when dogs, even those that are usually docile, get distracted and excited by grazing animals such as sheep or cows and begin to chase them. This causes the livestock stress and anxiety, which can lead to pregnancy loss, and in extreme cases can result in severe or fatal attacks.
It can also be dangerous to the dogs themselves, who may be injured in the attacks. Farmers are legally permitted to shoot dogs if they deem it necessary to protect their livestock.
Dog owners can also be prosecuted by the police if their dog is caught worrying livestock.
Operation Recall was devised by a rural crime police officer from Cheshire Police, and now includes Naturewatch Foundation and RSPCA as partners. It has also received the support of the newly established National Rural Crime Unit, which could mean the initiative is rolled out to other police forces nationally.
PC Jim Clark, of Cheshire Police, said: "As a rural and wildlife crime officer, my heart sinks when an incident of livestock worrying or an attack is reported. I instantly know that this will have an effect on the livestock, the farmer, the offender, and sadly the dog involved too.
“Working in partnership with organisations such as the RSPCA and Naturewatch Foundation is brilliant, as we all bring a unique expertise to the project."
Kate Salmon, campaign manager at Naturewatch Foundation, said: "We think the devastating consequences for all animals involved in livestock worrying and attacks are massively underestimated, with it being a genuine possibility that your dog will also not make it home, which no one wants to see happen and could be avoided if dog walkers ensure they are acting responsibly."
For more information, or to sign the pledge, visit the Operation Recall webpage.
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