A Leash Could Save a Life

23/04/2018

Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home's Education Officer, Daniel Tipping, has been busy putting together his top tips for dog and cat owners as we kick into spring. In the second of a three-part series, Daniel talks about the importance of keeping dogs under control around sheep.

Dog on a lead safety tips

Did you hear about the speedy sheep? The farmer named it Lamb-orghini!

Jokes aside, dog owners need to be sure not to give sheep a reason to run. Sheep - and their offspring, which we see more and more of in the spring - are not only a farmers livelihood, but are also animals no different to our beloved pet dogs and cats. Unfortunately, sheep worrying continues to be a major problem for farmers.

Despite the signs, the news stories, and owner's best efforts, early each year we see the same headlines about dog attacks on livestock. The accompanying photos are never for the faint-hearted, often showing terrible injuries inflicted to sheep or lambs - but our dogs are equally at risk when they attack, as in some instances a farmer may have the right to shoot a dog that is threatening their livestock.

While keeping dogs under close control and away from farm animals seems common sense, the need to do so is actually enshrined in a number of laws and codes.

The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 states that if a dog worries sheep on agricultural land  - which includes both attacking and chasing in a way that is distressing - the person in charge of the dog is guilty of an offence.  The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 revokes access rights to members of the public who don't have their dog under 'proper control'. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC) says this takes on different meaning depending on the situation, but owners should keep dogs on short leads, under close control, and recommends staying out of fields altogether where there are lambs about.

Is your equipment 'ruff' around the edges?

Thankfully, your weekend jaunts in the Pentland Hill's can be worry-free with the right equipment and a bit of common sense.

To coincide with lambing season and the warmer weather, spring is a great time of year to check over your dogs harnesses, leashes and collars. Be sure to look for any signs of wear and tear, and ensure the fit is right - not too loose, not too tight. If in doubt, seek a second opinion - any of our team at Edinburgh Dog & Cat Home would be happy to take a look at your equipment, assess the fit, and recommend a new harness or lead if necessary.

Part one of the three-part series, which covers safety around spring blooms, can be read here.

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