Ruff justice: Police want DNA database to identify dogs that worry livestock

Police want a database of dog DNA to collar animals responsible for attacks on livestock.

Officers from five forces have made a raft of recommendations including owners being legally obliged to tell police if their pet goes after a captive animal.

They also want the law changed so that animals including llamas, alpacas, emus and ostriches are defined as livestock.

Alpacas
(Alpacas at a farm in Hexham, Northumberland PA).

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) led a study on the issue of livestock worrying, with five forces - North Yorkshire, Devon and Cornwall, Sussex, North Wales and Hertfordshire - submitting data.

They found that from September 2013 to 2017 there were 1,705 recorded incidents of livestock worrying and attacks. A total of 1,928 animals were killed and 1,614 injured - at an estimated cost of £250,000.

Around one in 10 - 11% - of the incidents involved owners whose dog had worried or damaged livestock before, and in most cases the animal was not on a lead.

Our new report on livestock worrying highlights the scale of the problem and the challenges faced by police forces in supporting farmers to deal with the issue. Read it here: https://t.co/sfcA466XUMpic.twitter.com/FTzUYq3MZI

-- NPCC (@PoliceChiefs) February 21, 2018

Police face a number of problems in prosecuting livestock worrying, for example they are unable to search a dog owner's home for a canine that has attacked captive animals.

Kennels are not legally responsible for attacks carried out by animals in their care, and livestock worrying frequently goes unrecorded as a crime.

The NPCC lead for wildlife and rural crime, Chief Constable David Jones, said: "This project provides hard data showing livestock worrying is a very significant issue for farmers that impacts on their livelihoods.

"We need dog owners to take responsibility for their animals - not just by putting their dogs on a lead when out walking, but by preventing them from escaping from home and causing damage to livestock.  We need livestock owners to report incidents so that we can gather intelligence and launch investigations.

"Above all, we need the powers to tackle this problem effectively and an overhaul of the outdated and sometimes ineffective rules surrounding livestock worrying".

Animal welfare minister Lord Gardiner said he will look closely at the group's recommendations.

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