The National Sheep Association (NSA) is looking to the many agricultural events and shows taking place in the coming weeks and months as the ideal opportunity to reach out to members of the public in promoting responsible dog ownership to reduce incidences of sheep worrying – and is asking sheep farmers to get involved in any way they can.
NSA communications officer Katie James said: “The work of NSA to highlight the serious problem of sheep worrying by dogs is well recognised by our members and the wider sheep farming industry. However, we need to continue our work to build positive relationships with the dog-owning public to ensure improved behaviour of the minority of dog walkers that allow their animals to run free around livestock, often with devastating results.
“We share the frustration of our members about the number of completely avoidable attacks on sheep, but only browbeating the public and portraying negative messages about shooting dogs is not an effective message. We want to share a positive message about dog owners enjoying the beautiful landscapes in Britain, which are created by the hard work of sheep farmers, and to do so responsibly and consider the impact an attack can have on farmers business and livelihood.”
For several years NSA has collected data and opinions on sheep worrying attacks to gain an insight into its severity and unseen consequences. Results from NSA surveys have highlighted the seriousness of the issue, including statistics such as 85 per cent of sheep farmers who’ve suffered sheep worrying attacks experiencing feelings of stress and anxiety, leading to almost a quarter of those affected considering giving up sheep farming as a result.