As lambing season gets underway across Sheffield, Yorkshire Water is urging dog owners to keep their pets on leads whilst on their land.
The firm states that, even if your dog is generally docile, they can cause extreme distress to sheep when unleashed off their lead.
Last year, at Underbank reservoir in Sheffield, a lamb was chased by a dog to the point where it jumped in an overflow channel which led to it dying as a result of its injuries. One particular dog also chased a whole flock of sheep which resulted in thirty ewes miscarrying their lambs due to the stress it caused.
Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, if a dog worries sheep on agricultural land, the person in charge of the dog is guilty of an offence and the farmer even has the right to shoot it.
Alastair Harvey, recreation advisor at Yorkshire Water, said: “We welcome dog walkers onto our land and indeed reservoirs are popular spots to take a dog for a circular walk. All we are asking is that they are kept on their lead at all times to prevent any potential devastation to livestock and farmers livelihoods. It is amazing the transformation in some dogs behaviour when they get sight of sheep.”
Irresponsible dog ownership causes another problem at Yorkshire Water’s recreational sites too. Over the last five years, the company has spent approximately £60,000 to keep paths, picnic sites and car parks clean of unsightly dog mess which spoils the experience for other visitors.
Mr Harvey added: “Again, we would like to emphasise that the vast majority of dog owners are responsible but we remind all dog owners to please scoop up after your dog, not only to keep pathways clean, but to reduce the risk of the transfer of diseases to humans and livestock.”