Dogs And Sheep On High Spy
by Libby Burns, Burgjh By Sands
Whilst out walking on High Spy on Saturday last I was disgusted with the attitude of a young family walking with 2 dogs. Three times from the hillside we saw them allowing their dogs to chase the sheep. When we waited to talk to them about this they were very rude and offensive with us suggesting that if they put leads on the dogs there was was no other way for their dogs 'to learn' how to behave when out! We were enraged but felt helpless. What does one do when one sees this behaviour -dogs and owners. Now I know that the majority of dog owners are responsible but there are people out there who are not. This is not the first time I have witnessed this. We felt there was nobody to complain to for reprimand.
Dog owners are required to keep dogs under effective control at all times. For the avoidance on doubt, The Countryside Code on the Natural England website is quite explicit about what is defined by the phrase 'Keep dogs under effective control'.
Keep dogs under effective control
When you take your dog into the outdoors, always ensure it does not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses or other people by keeping it under effective control. This means that you:
- keep your dog on a lead, or
- keep it in sight at all times, be aware of what it's doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command
- ensure it does not stray off the path or area where you have a right of access
Special dog rules may apply in particular situations, so always look out for local signs - for example:
- Dogs may be banned from certain areas that people use, or there may be restrictions, byelaws or control orders limiting where they can go.
- The access rights that normally apply to open country and registered common land (known as 'Open Access' land) require dogs to be kept on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July, to help protect ground nesting birds, and all year round near farm animals.
- At the coast, there may also be some local restrictions to require dogs to be kept on a short lead during the bird breeding season, and to prevent disturbance to flocks of resting and feeding birds during other times of year.
It's always good practice (and a legal requirement on 'Open Access' land) to keep your dog on a lead around farm animals and horses, for your own safety and for the welfare of the animals. A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog's owner.
However, if cattle or horses chase you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead - don't risk getting hurt by trying to protect it. Your dog will be much safer if you let it run away from a farm animal in these circumstances and so will you.
Everyone knows how unpleasant dog mess is and it can cause infections, so always clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly - 'bag it and bin it'. Make sure your dog is wormed regularly to protect it, other animals and people.
Hope this helps . . .
“Is that vet replier a lawyer? I don't think so. This is correct: In England and Wales (where I assume the incident took place) it is not illegal for a dog to be off a lead just because it isn't in a garden. I hate dogs. I wish it was the law that they had to be on leads all the time when not at their own homes but unfortunately it isn't.”
P Carthy, Newtown
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