Police remind dog owners in Hemel to keep their pets under control around livestock

Working together to educate dog walkers and raise awareness of the Public Spaces Protection Order to tackle dog related issues

By Holly Patel
Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 4:54 pm

Dacorum Borough Council and Hertfordshire Police have been working together to educate dog walkers in Hemel Hempstead about the law in relation to worrying livestock.

Officers from Hertfordshire Police's Rural Support Unit supported by local PCSO Daniel McManus and colleagues from Dacorum Borough Council's Enforcement Team were out on patrol in and around Boxmoor on Wednesday (January 27).

Their intention was to educate local dog walkers around the law in relation to worrying livestock. In addition, they were raising awareness of the Public Spaces Protection Order to tackle dog related issues across the Borough.

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Police remind dog owners in Hemel to keep their pets under control around livestock (C) Hertfordshire Police

The Box Moor Trust have reported a number of issues to the local team recently linked to irresponsible dog owners.

In recent years the Box Moor Trust have suffered increasing numbers of attacks on sheep resulting in serious wounds and deaths. Chasing pregnant ewes leads to abortions and birthing difficulties.

David Kirk, chair of the Trust, said: "Our sheep and cattle help us to manage the land in an environmentally friendly way and visitors must expect some fields to have grazing animals. Details of where animals are grazing can be found on our website.

"Understandably, Covid restrictions have kept our large and growing population of Hemel Hempstead close to home. This has more than doubled footfall on Box Moor Trust land and it has proved just how important access to wildlife rich countryside is for exercise, health and enjoyment.

"At the Trust we are delighted to see so many visitors and would love to have staff and volunteers out there working with family groups to enlighten them on the treasures that surround them as they walk. But we can’t due to continuing restrictions.

"Sadly, despite lots of posters and media articles, a minority are spoiling things by refusing to keep dogs under control near livestock.

"Added to that, again despite requests, many walkers are refusing to pick up after their dogs as they think it’s fine to leave it in fields. It isn’t!

"This work by the Borough Council and Police Rural Support Unit will cover all open spaces, not just Box Moor Trust land. It is primarily advice and we really welcome this.

"It is a joined up approach that is really important to try and make the town a better place. We also need our responsible walkers to assist us in this campaign.

"Visitors to open spaces must be made aware that livestock worrying and littering is a not only a crime, it is offensive for every other visitor.

"We hope that the few who ignore our pleas can change their ways and respect the wonderful surroundings they have for the benefit of all of us. If they refuse to do so then legal action following injury or death to animals is inevitable."

Officers from Dacorum Borough Council's Enforcement Team have been working with the police's Rural Support Unit.

A council spokesperson said: "Dacorum Borough Council’s Animal Welfare and Enforcement Team worked with Herts Police in the Boxmoor Trust area to highlight the essential issue of responsible dog ownership.

"Police and our staff were able to speak to a large amount of dog walkers in the area regarding livestock worrying, dogs on leads and correct waste disposal.

"Our officers were also highlighting the dog control Public Spaces Protection Order which is in place across the whole of the borough which makes it an offence to not pick up after your dog and to not carry poo-bags.

"We also remind dog owners that bagging dog-waste and hanging it from a tree is not correct disposal."

As lambing season approaches, Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Rural Operational Support Team is calling on dog owners to ensure their pets are kept under control at all times while out walking.

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.

The act considers ‘sheep worrying’ to include attacking sheep, chasing them in a way that may cause injury, suffering, abortion or loss of produce, or being at large (i.e. not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.

The Act does not require livestock to be killed for this offence to be committed.

Dog owners can also be convicted for ‘allowing their dog to be dangerously out of control’ and in some cases owners have been cautioned or summonsed to court.

Sergeant Karen Mellor said: “Box Moor Trust land is a beautiful place to walk with a dog but it is vital that owners keep their pets on a lead when walking anywhere near livestock.

“Even if you think you have good control of your dog please still put a lead on them as many owners who have felt confident in their recall skills have been caught out, leaving both the owner of the dog and livestock shocked, upset and potentially out of pocket.

“Sheep worrying is a crime and those that allow their dogs to chase livestock will be dealt with robustly."

If you see a dog attacking livestock or chasing livestock please call 999. If the incident has already happened and is no longer in progress you can report information onlineor call 101.