Avoidable losses, such as those that occur when a dog chases or attacks livestock, remain a significant source of frustration for the livestock sector in Wales, writes Bryn Francis.

Industry initiatives, such as the FUW campaign “Your dog, Your responsibility” which widened the message to respecting the countryside, picking up after your dog, keeping dogs on a lead near livestock and making sure dogs don’t escape from home, have had some impact.

The number of dog attacks on livestock has shown a decline in recent months.

However whether this trend will continue in the longer term remains to be seen and localised reports of attacks continue.

There are currently four laws that can be used when examining dog attacks on livestock in England and Wales, however they are all out-of-date and completely unfit for purpose.

For example, the 1953 Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act was introduced before DNA could be extracted from a sample and it therefore does not give police forces the power to obtain DNA samples from suspect dogs.

It is also true that the current laws do not allow for penalties which fit the seriousness of the crime; nor do they allow for adequate compensation for farmers.

The pandemic has delayed the legislative process, however the FUW continues to press for legislative changes including the mandatory recording of dog attacks on livestock by all police forces, an increase in the current maximum fine of one thousand pounds, full compensation for farmers and the ability for police forces to obtain DNA samples from suspect dogs.

The FUW recognises that there is no one ‘quick fix’ to this issue, and that a mixture of education, campaigning and legislative changes are needed.

We will continue to lobby for real changes to be made.