NEIL Hamilton, Leader of UKIP Wales and AM for Mid & West Wales, is backing calls to review legislation to help reduce the number of dogs attacking livestock in Wales.
Mr Hamilton, Party Spokesman for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, has welcomed recommendations in a national report to look again at the current laws.
“I welcome this report and support any review to make changes to the 1953 Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act.
“Under the current law, if the owner is known, police cannot seize the animal even if the dog may be responsible for other attacks. There is also no requirement for the owner to report the attack and it is not a recordable offence.
“Farmers need more protection as the financial and emotional impact of livestock worrying is something they can clearly do without.
“Dog owners need to take responsibility and make sure their pets are kept on leads near livestock. Some may think they can guarantee their pet will not harass the animals but better be safe than sorry.
“Of course, everyone enjoys walking dogs in the countryside, but no-one wants to see unnecessary suffering caused to sheep or other livestock.
“The reality is that a dog allowed to roam off a leash can cause distress and injury to sheep, in particular, and everyone needs to be extra vigilant.”
In the report, the National Police Chief’s Council Wildlife and Rural Crime Working Group, recommended for livestock worrying to become a recorded offence and for dog owners to be legally bound to report that their dog has attacked livestock to the police.
The group spent a year looking at the true extent of livestock worrying and attacks in five different forces, and found that in these areas there were 1,705 recorded incidents at an estimated cost of £250,000.
Dyfed-Powys Police Chief Constable Mark Collins said: “We fully support this timely review, and the recommendations made within it, which we believe would benefit both the victims of these offences and the officers investigating them.
“There should be a requirement from the Home Office that police forces record attacks on livestock and on animals not currently listed as livestock as a recordable crime.
The current situation means that we are missing the opportunity improve the data picture.
“Because livestock worrying is not a recordable offence, it is difficult to put an exact figure on the cost of these offences.
“However, in 2016 it was estimated that around 15,000 sheep alone were killed by dogs, putting the cost to the farming sector at around £1.3 million – this is unsustainable for the farming community.
“These figures are simply not acceptable and I would urge dog owners to take more care controlling their pets and be more Sheep Aware.” added Mr Hamilton.