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North Devon Police have issued a livestock attack warning

During March, officers from Devon & Cornwall Police will launch their annual campaign to raise awareness of preventative measures to reduce dog attacks on livestock.

During 2022, Devon & Cornwall Police received 140 reports of attacks on farm animals. However, a slight decrease on the previous year in this number, 220 animals were killed or injured and two dogs were euthanized.

These numbers are likely to be much higher due to under-reporting and the longer-term effects of the incident, where stress can cause ewes to die or abort lambs long after the event. It can often be difficult to attribute longer-term issues to a specific incident.

Allowing a dog to chase or attack livestock is a criminal offense and can have a devastating effect on the livestock, the farmer and in some circumstances the dog and owner.

Crime figures suggest an increase in reports at this time of year as the weather improves and more people enter the countryside, particularly around lambing season.

By repeating this campaign, police hope to remind people of the law and ensure responsible dog ownership.

Dogs should not be outside the home unattended and their behavior should be controlled at all times. All land is owned and access is not a given right. It is important that rural users understand the specific designation of land and paths, for example, on land designated as access, a dog must be on a lead from 1 March to 31 July and at all times when livestock are present.

If you witness an attack on livestock, do not intervene, protect yourself and call 999. Any further information regarding attacks on livestock should be reported to the police online or by calling 101.

The Rural Affairs team has produced a short video highlighting the issue:

A spokesman for Devon & Cornwall Police said: “Enjoy the countryside but keep your dog on a lead if livestock are present. Let your dog out if it is being chased by livestock. Animal concerns at the time are treated as an emergency call to 999 and explain that there is a dog attacking farm animals with the exact location.

“Livestock owners can advise dog walkers by giving them clear notices about the presence of livestock, the location of footpaths and suitable fencing. Farmers have a right to protect their livestock. Make sure you know the legislation and your legal responsibilities.”

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