There have been several incidents of dogs worrying livestock in and around Southwick over the past month.
The RSPCA says that somewhere between two and three million dogs have been homed or purchased during lockdown and that this is already causing difficulties for the dogs and their new owners, and will continue to do so for quite some time.
Not only is that a lot of new energetic puppies and all the problems they bring but it’s an awful lot of locked-down new dog-owners struggling with their new-puppy problems without the support of training classes or puppy socialising groups. The result seems to be ill-prepared and inexperienced dog walkers, poorly trained and badly behaved dogs, and a nationwide surge in livestock worrying.
This is the time of year when the fields are full of heavily pregnant ewes and baby lambs. An uncontrolled dog, even just running loose among a flock of sheep, can do terrible damage: lambs are injured in the panic, stressed ewes abort their foetuses or collapse from shock and die.
The National Farmer’s Union has conducted research that revealed that over 80% of dog owners exercise their pets in the countryside, with over 60% of them letting their dog roam off the lead. A horrifying 7% of owners admitted that their pets had chased livestock in the past.
Does this mean that among every hundred dogs walking in our park, there are seven known livestock-worriers? Let’s hope those seven are always kept on a lead; all along our northwest boundaries, our neighbours are livestock farmers.
If you see a dog running loose among livestock, even if it is not attacking the animals, a crime is being committed; please report it to the local community police on 101 or 07471 029309. In an emergency always ring 999.
If you are not confident that your dog will come when it is called, please don’t let it off-lead in the park. We are not a dog park, our boundaries are not fenced to keep your dog in; we are a nature reserve and our fences are there to keep the livestock of neighbouring farmers out.
If your dog is off-lead, please try to keep it in sight all the time.