Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Keep your dog under control near livestock

Keep your dog under control near livestock
09 May 2018

Dog owners are being reminded to keep their dogs under control when near livestock.

Dog owners who live in rural areas or anyone walking and exercising their dogs in the countryside should ensure their dogs are under control at all times and avoid going into fields where livestock are grazing.

The vast majority of livestock worrying incidents involve sheep and can occur when a dog attacks or chases sheep, or is 'at large' (not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field where livestock are kept.

The devastating effects of a dog attack cannot be overstated but significant damage can also be caused by a dog simply being present in a field. Pregnant ewes can abort their lambs or lambs can be separated from their mothers, causing distress and in some cases malnutrition.

Mark Evans is the Animal Welfare Officer for Orkney Islands Council. He said: "Thankfully the vast majority of dog owners ensure their dogs are well behaved. However, every year there are isolated reports of incidents and we would like to remind the public that if a dog worries livestock on any agricultural land then the owner and or the person in charge of the dog, is guilty of a criminal offence.”

The legislation relating to this is the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 and “worrying” is defined as:

  • Attacking livestock.
  • Chasing livestock in such a way as may reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering to the livestock or abortion.
  • Being at large, not otherwise under close control or on a lead, in a field or enclosure where there are livestock.