The BVA is asking dog owners to keep their pets on leads near livestock after recent figures confirmed attacks have risen by more than 50% in the past three years.
Backed by Farmers Guardian, the campaign aims to improve relationships in rural areas by encouraging walkers to keep dogs on leads near livestock. New figures, obtained using a Freedom of Information request to UK police forces, showed there were more than 1,000 attacks on livestock by dogs in 2013 – up from 691 in 2011.
BVA president and vet Robin Hargreaves said: “These figures make disturbing reading for anyone with an interest in animal welfare. Our members see first hand the terrible consequences when dogs are not kept under control around livestock, especially during lambing season.
“Chasing and attacks can lead to serious injuries, fatalities and spontaneous abortion for sheep and other livestock. The results of these avoidable attacks are deeply distressing for the animal, the farmer and for the vet.
“We don’t want to discourage people from walking their dogs in the countryside. It’s great exercise and has health benefits for both owner and pet. However, responsible ownership, including keeping dogs on lead when necessary, is the cornerstone of good relationships between dog owners and farmers.
“It’s important to always know where your dog is in rural areas as they can cause a lot of damage in a short time. Most owners are well meaning, but if a dog is out of sight, they may not even be aware of the chasing or attack.
We’re supporting this campaign to encourage dog owners in rural areas to keep their dogs on lead when walking near livestock.” For more information and advice from vets on animal welfare issues visit the BVA website at www.bva.co.uk/news