A TWO-WEEK campaign to raise awareness of dog attacks on sheep has been announced by the National Sheep Association.

The 2021 campaign ‘LeadOn’ launches this Friday, April 30, and the charity hopes that the extended two-week time frame will ensure more people pick up on the messaging around responsible dog ownership.

It comes at a critical time, with fields filling up with new-born lambs across the UK, coupled with the easing of nationwide Covid restrictions which has seen the public flock to the countryside at one of the most vulnerable times in the farming calendar.

The NSA launch will begin with the latest results from its farmers’ survey, having gathered the experiences of its members of dog attacks on their flocks over the past year.

The charity say that the survey has broken all previous NSA records for the number of respondents which gives an early indication of the scale of the problem.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker commented: “Sheep farmers across the UK have suffered an increase in sheep worrying attacks by dogs over the past year, as dog ownership has increased and walking in the countryside has become one of the few activities to be enjoyed during lockdown – but dog owners must be responsible for their pet.

“NSA is committed to ensuring the general public develops a better understanding of the stress and suffering that any dog, no matter its breed, can cause to sheep by barking, chasing and attacking them,” he explained. “It is a serious animal welfare issue that puts both sheep and much-loved pets at risk”

The two-week long campaign will include social media activity, webinars, workshops and new online case studies and content on the NSA website to help both sheep farmers in reducing the risk of attacks happening on farm and the general public in preventing their dogs from being involved in sheep worrying attacks.

It is hoped the campaign hashtag #LeadOn will be recognised as an encouragement to dog owners to be responsible and act as an example to others by keeping their pets on leads in the presence of livestock.

The charity is encouraging retailers, pet service providers such as vets and rescue centres and popular visitor sites to support their campaign and spread the message to wider audiences.

Mr Stocker continued: “As a farmer facing organisation it can be difficult for NSA to reach the general public with the simple but crucial message to keep dogs on leads whenever sheep might be nearby. NSA is therefore calling on those with regular contact with dog owners in the many varied areas of life to help spread this message also.”

NSA is also encouraging farmers to join its Breakfast Club webinar on Wednesday, May 5, that will provide an early morning focus on the current and future legislation surrounding sheep worrying by dogs. The webinar will begin at 8.30am.

Further details on this and the campaign workshops are available on the NSA website at www.nationalsheep.org.uk/events