The National Sheep Association (NSA) has called for a concerted effort to promote responsible dog ownership as part of its new livestock-worrying campaign.
The NSA has asked retailers, vets, pet rescue centres and popular visitor sites to join together and play their part in addressing the problem.
The plea comes before the release of results from the NSA’s 2021 sheep farmers’ survey, which assessed the effect of sheep worrying by dogs on farms across the UK during the past year.
The results are expected to show an increase in cases of sheep worrying by dogs over the past 12 months, as dog ownership has increased during lockdown.
The NSA wants farmers to use the #LeadOn hashtag for the fortnightly campaign, which takes place from 30 April to 13 May, to share their experiences and get people talking about the importance of responsible dog ownership.
There will be webinars and workshops to help farmers reduce the risk of attacks on their land.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “To assist with promotion of the NSA’s 2021 #LeadOn campaign, we ask as many public-facing organisations and companies as possible to display our newly designed, eye-catching graphics and posters.
“Together a change in attitudes and reduction in this devastating problem can be achieved, and the welfare of thousands of sheep that are affected each year improved.”
Ex-England rugby star Haskell under fire over loose dog stance
Farmers have criticised ex-England rugby player James Haskell after he dismissed concerns about his dog being off the lead when out walking on a public footpath over the weekend.
Mr Haskell posted a video on social media talking about his interaction with a member of the public who asked him to use a lead.
The former Wasps and Northampton Saints forward said he refused to do so because there were no livestock in the field, or anywhere nearby.
Farmers responded to Mr Haskell to highlight the devastation caused by livestock attacks, but he was adamant there was no risk of that happening where he was walking.
Others raised concerns that loose dogs may run out of sight and disturb ground-nesting birds, or defecate, as the mess can be dangerous to livestock if it contaminates grazing pasture.
The law in England and Wales says people can walk their dog on public footpaths as long as it is under their close control.
There have been calls for tougher legislation to crack down on livestock worrying.