Saturday, March 28, 2020

Rise in cost of livestock attacks worrying trend for farmers

February 28, 2020 by  
Filed under Livestock

Dog attacks on livestock cost farmers more than £1million last year, reveal new statistics published by rural insurer NFU Mutual.

There were welcome falls in the figures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where co-ordinated campaigns have helped change attitudes among dog owners. But a 15% rise in the cost of attacks in England led to the overall UK figure of £1.2m.

More owners now put their dog on a lead if they see a sign warning them livestock are nearby, according to the survey of over 1,300 dog owners commissioned by the NFU Mutual. Some 95% said they kept their dog on a lead compared to 90% in 2018.

But 63% of dog owners let their pets roam free in the countryside, despite half admitting their dog doesn’t always come back when called.

Steady increase

The research found a steady increase over the past two years of dogs allowed to go outside unaccompanied when their owners are out (56% in 2020, rising from 52% in 2019 and 43% in 2018). Fifteen per cent admitted their dog had escaped from home in the past.

“This confirms farmers’ fears that a significant number of dog owners are letting their dogs roam free unsupervised,” said Rebecca Davidson, NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist.

“Whether they don’t know or don’t care about the carnage their pets are causing, these dog owners are giving a bad name to the responsible majority who do keep their pets under control. There is some encouraging news from the survey, with evidence that campaigns are having some effect.

Awareness

“Ninety-five per cent of dog owners would now put their pet on a lead if a sign warns livestock are nearby – an increase of 5% in two years and a testament to the campaigns run by the farming media, police and farmers’ unions.”

The sharpest cost rises in 2019 were in south-east England (up 87%) and north-west England (up 79%). Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all saw falls of 30%, 15% and 61% respectively – including in areas where campaigns have raised awareness of dog attacks.

With many families expected to visit the countryside during the coming Easter holidays, NFU Mutual has launched a new campaign urging dog owners to keep their pets under control at all times when livestock could be nearby.

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