Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many dogs were shot or injured by farmers for attacking sheep in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021.
The Government takes the issue of livestock worrying very seriously, recognising the distress this can cause farmers and animals, as well as the financial implications, which can be very significant.
Defra does not hold data on the number of dogs shot or injured by farmers for attacking sheep per year, as this data is held by individual police forces. The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill does not include a provision to allow a farmer to shoot a dog which is worrying livestock on their land. However, the Animals Act 1971 provides that in civil proceedings against a person for killing or injuring a dog, it is a defence in certain circumstances where a dog is killed or injured by someone protecting livestock.
New measures to crack down on livestock worrying in England and Wales are to be brought in through the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, which was introduced in Parliament on 8 June 2021.
We appreciate that the right approach for pet owners to take in managing and controlling their dog's behaviour differs from both person to person and from pet to pet. Defra would advise all owners who are concerned about controlling their dog's behaviour, for whatever reason, to take advice from their vet or a suitably qualified dog behaviourist or trainer. Such specialists would be best positioned to advise on the best approach for their specific case. The Animal Behaviour and Training Council maintains national registers of appropriately qualified trainers and behaviourists.
Defra's statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs and Natural England's refreshed version of the Countryside Code apply to handling dogs in the vicinity of livestock and outline the actions that can be taken by dog owners to reduce the occurrence of attacks or chasing.