DOG OWNERS are being urged to keep their pets under control, after it was revealed that £912,000 worth of livestock have been savaged in the Midlands over the past four years.
There has been an increasing number of reports detailing the attacks caused by dogs let out in gardens, escaping and attacking sheep in neighbouring fields.
Although attacks do not always result in horrific or fatal injuries, the distress of a chase can cause sheep to die and miscarry their lamb.
Research by the NFU Mutual revealed one in six dog owners admitted their dog had escaped from home, with 52 per cent of people allowing their pets to go out in the garden unaccompanied, a ten per cent increase from last year.
Rebecca Davidson, Rural Insurance Specialist at Midlands-based NFU Mutual, said: “We are receiving increasing reports of local dogs escaping from homes and attacking sheep, either because their owners do not know or do not care that their dogs are roaming wild and causing havoc.
“Thousands of sheep are being killed and horribly mutilated by dogs and we will be redoubling our efforts to raise awareness of the issue, and helping police to bring owners of dogs which attacks livestock to justice.”
Dog owners are advised to keep their dogs on a lead when walking in rural areas and to not be fooled into thinking that even small lap dogs cannot attack and kill farm animals.
Any attacks witnessed are urged to be reported to either local farmers or the police and dog owners should be warned farmers are within their rights to shoot pets which worry or injure their livestock.
Research shows 87 per cent of dog owners exercise their pets in the countryside and 60 per cent of those let them off their leads.
Three quarters of dog owners say they would support heavy fines, meanwhile 42 per cent would support owners being banned from keeping dogs if their pet had been involved in an attack.
In the Midlands alone, the cost of attacks on UK agriculture from 2015-2018 numbered just over £918,000, the second highest in the country behind South West England which cost over £1million.
Visit www.nfumutual.co.uk for more advice on preventing dogs attacking livestock.