Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act of 1953
After yesterday’s post about dog attacks on a neighbouring farmer’s sheep, we were told of dogs chasing the horses in the field beyond the stile at Puddle Corner. If your dog chases livestock, you are committing an offence; read on for a précis of the Dogs (protection of Livestock) Act of 1953.
This is the Act of Parliament that protects livestock from dogs. Livestock is defined as cattle, horses, sheep, goats, pigs and domestic poultry; worrying is defined as attacking, chasing, causing injury, being out of control in a field or enclosure containing livestock. Strictly speaking, if you are walking your dog through a field of sheep and the sheep run away from the dog, a crime has been committed if your dog is not either at heel or on a leash.
If it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that a dog has worried livestock on agricultural land, the dog-owner as well as the person in charge of the dog, can be charged with an offence. If convicted, either or both can be fined up to £1000 plus costs, plus victim surcharge, plus compensation, the last of which could be very expensive if an animal has had to be euthanised. The court can also order that your dog be destroyed.
Farmers are permitted to shoot dogs that are worrying, or are about to worry, farm animals. This permission is outlined in the Animals Act 1971 section 9, which states that a dog can be regarded as worrying livestock merely by being off lead and not under close control in a field or enclosure where there are sheep. A landowner could shoot such a dog if it can be proved that the action was necessary to protect the livestock. The Act also states that the farmer is not liable to compensate the dog’s owner in such circumstances.
The park is not, and never will be, securely fenced around its perimeter; an off-leash dog will always find a gap if it wants to. On the other side of our insecure boundaries are agricultural fields; the fields often house livestock which is legally protected from your dog.
Take care; keep your dog on a leash if you think it might chase the horses or sheep in neighbouring fields.
Update: we reported to the police the incident of dogs chasing the horses in the field at Puddle Corner.