New lambs on Scottish farms at high risk of dog attacks over Easter holiday
NFU Mutual is calling on Easter visitors to the Scottish countryside to keep their dogs under control to protect newborn lambs in fields across the country.
The leading rural insurer fears adult ‘pandemic puppies’ could cause even greater carnage at Easter if left off-leash in the countryside.
Research by NFU Mutual shows that 73% of dog owners (up from 64% last year) now allow their pets to wander off-leash in the countryside, although 49% admit their dog does not always come back when he is called.
Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “With Easter coming to an end this year, most lambs on Scottish farms have been born and are very vulnerable to dog attack – so we are asking owners to keep their animals pet on leash whenever livestock could. be nearby.
“With many people planning an Easter trip to the countryside with dogs who are not used to being around sheep, we are concerned that there will be an upsurge in attacks.
“As the weather improves for the bank holiday, we understand that people want to make the most of the campaign, but it’s crucial this is done responsibly.
“Although harmless at home, the gentle pets can quickly turn to their natural instincts in the field, leaving a trail of horrific injuries to sheep and newborn lambs.
“Owners should be aware that it’s not just big dogs that attack sheep – even small dogs can cause death by chasing sheep in fields until they die of stress or by separating lambs babies from their mothers.”
Tips for walking a dog in the NFU Mutual Easter Campaign:
- Always keep dogs on a leash when walking in rural areas where livestock are kept – but drop the leash if they are being chased by livestock.
- Recognize that even small dogs can cause distress, injury and death to farm animals.
- Report dog attacks to the police or local farmers.
- Do not leave dogs loose unattended in gardens near cattle fields – many attacks are caused by dogs escaping and attacking sheep grazing nearby.