Attack fears as ‘pandemic puppies’ visit countryside

Land association urging owners to ensure their dogs do not worry lambs

Monday, 12th April 2021, 7:55 am
Updated Monday, 12th April 2021, 8:00 am
Michael Valenzia of the Country Land Association

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is warning of a spike in dog attacks as ‘pandemic puppies’ visit the countryside for the first time, coinciding with the peak of the lambing season.

With dog attacks up 10% compared to last year, the CLA – in line with the relaunched Countryside Code – is offering advice for dog walks to help the 2.2m new owners understand how to protect their pet while keeping farm animals safe.

This includes calls for owners to pick up dog faeces to avoid the spread of neosporosis, an infectious disease of animals that causes abortion and stillbirth among cattle.

The CLA, which represents thousands of farmers and rural businesses, recommends dog walkers take the following action:

>Ensure your dog is under control, on a lead, and only let go if you are chased by livestock

>Never let your dog worry or chase wildlife or livestock.

>Prevent your dog from approaching horse riders, cyclists, or other people and their dogs uninvited.

>Keep your dog with you on paths or access land and don’t let it stray into crops, including any fields.

>Never leave bags of dog poo lying around, even if you intend to pick them up later.

>Ensure your details are on your dog’s collar and it is microchipped.

A lack of education around the Countryside Code has left some visitors without a basic understanding of what is acceptable behaviour. The CLA continues to campaign for the code to be taught in schools across the region.

CLA south east regional director Michael Valenzia said: “Getting a new puppy is an exciting time for everyone, although it is also a huge learning curve. Part of that is teaching your dog how to interact with other animals safely. But worryingly, a third of dogs bought during lockdown have never even visited a park, let alone a working farm.

“With lockdown restrictions easing up as the crucial lambing season is hitting its peak, we want to help inform the millions of people on how to protect their dog and keep farm animals safe, allowing everyone to enjoy the countryside together.”