Outdoor Recreation NI, which is spearheading ‘The Right Side of Outside” campaign, is strengthening its call to dog owners.
It has urged dog owners to “be more mindful” of how their outdoor actions impact the landscape and livestock that are working environments for local farmers when exploring public land in the countryside.
One of the most common incidences of livestock worrying is dogs attacking sheep.
It advises that “walkers should not take dogs onto rural land where livestock graze to avoid a chase and stress to the animals as well as ensuring the safety of the dog owner and their pet”.
“No matter where visitors venture to in the countryside, even if livestock are not present, their dog should always be on a lead and under control.”
Dawson Stelfox, chair of Outdoor Recreation NI, has urged people to:
- Enjoy the outdoors responsibly;
- keep dogs on leads;
- park responsibly;
- take litter home;
- Plan ahead.
Stelfox said: “As we enjoy more time in our shared outdoor spaces over the summer months, we want to remind people to love these spaces and look after them.”
“Whilst we encourage people to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the countryside, we ask they follow a number of measures that will ensure their outing is stress-free for them, their dog and for farm animals.”
Responsible dog ownership
Dawson stated that responsible dog ownership could reduce and hopefully eliminate these risks.
Therefore, he believes this is why we need to inform and educate the public on what responsible dog ownership is.
“As dog owners, we have a responsibility to protect our dogs from getting into difficult or upsetting situations.”
Ulster Farmer’s Union, deputy president, William Irvine is among those supporting the message.
He stated that livestock worrying “remains a constant concern for members”, particularly at this time of the year when many are venturing to the countryside with their dogs for recreation.
“While the majority respect farmers working in rural areas, too many individuals still cross farmland and let their dog run loose in rural areas despite farmer’s pleas.”
“Farmers work hard to produce high-quality food for consumers all-year-round.”
“It is extremely disheartening that they disregard their local food producers by ignoring critical advice and keeping their dog on a lead and under control.”
“By doing so, they are making the conscious decision to put someone else’s animals at risk as well as their own pet which is totally irresponsible.”
“Just because you can’t see livestock doesn’t mean they aren’t close by.”
Every dog, he added, regardless of the breed or temperament, is a threat to sheep.
He said that ensuring your dog(s) is safely enclosed at home is “equally important”.
“If a dog was to escape from one’s home, the threat of a livestock attack can be greater as the dog will be roaming alone. Dog owners need to be extremely responsible at all times,” he concluded.
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