ATTACKS ON sheep by uncontrolled dogs are met with different legal responses across the UK – and it is high time that the Home Office got a grip of the issue and created a single, tough, legal framework that can be applied in all cases.

Launching its latest dog worrying survey, the National Sheep Association called for it to be made a recordable crime and for the associated laws to be tightened up to make prosecution easier.

“Currently, there is no set definition of dog worrying for police to record it," noted NSA policy officer Ellie Phipps. "Some may record an incident by each sheep affected – e.g 30 sheep in one flock would be 30 cases ­– while others record one attack regardless of how many sheep – e.g 30 sheep in one flock would be one case. Equally, the powers the police have when they do try to take action can be restricting.”

Any data collected as a part of the 2020 survey will help NSA back up its calls for legal change. It will also be used as part of NSAs 2020 dog worrying campaign, which will run in early March and be targeted at the public to try and encourage more responsible dog ownership.

“Dog worrying is an issue that affects so many sheep farmers across the UK and is extremely demoralising and frustrating for people," said Ms Phipps. "In order to reinvigorate our work, we think it is important to have up to date information and data from those who are being impacted.”

The survey, aimed at sheep farmers, asks members questions about the sort of attacks they have, how often they happen and how the attacks impact them – both financially and emotionally.

“NSA works closely with a number of police forces and groups to help tackle dog worrying, however, there are still a number of forces around the country that don’t have dedicated rural crime officers, and these are the areas that people tend to have bad experiences with," added Ms Phipps. "The more data we have to work with, the more we can add pressure to these areas to ensure they treat dog worrying like the serious crime it is.”

The survey is available at