Commissioner and Deputy support NFU ‘Take the Lead’ campaign

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has joined with partners to encourage dog walkers to put pets on a lead when walking near farm animals.

Representatives of the NFU are being joined by partners including the National Trust, Surrey Police, Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend and Deputy Commissioner Ellie Vesey-Thompson, and Mole Valley MP Sir Paul Beresford in talking to Surrey dog walkers. An awareness raising event will take place from 10.30am on Tuesday 10 August at the National Trust’s Polesden Lacey, near Dorking (car park RH5 6BD).

Surrey NFU Adviser Romy Jackson says: “Sadly, the number of dog attacks on farm animals remains unacceptably high and attacks are seriously impacting farmers’ livelihoods.

“As we’re seeing an above average number of people and pets in the countryside as the pandemic continues, we’re taking this opportunity to educate dog walkers. We hope to explain how farmers play a vital role in the management of the Surrey Hills, producing our food and caring for this wonderful landscape. We encourage people to show appreciation by keeping dogs on leads around livestock and picking up their poo which can be harmful to animals, especially cattle. Always bag and bin your dog’s poo – any bin will do.”

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey Ellie Vesey-Thompson said: “I am concerned that farmers in our rural communities have noticed an increase in dog attacks on animals and livestock as many more residents and visitors have taken advantage of Surrey’s beautiful countryside in the past 18 months.

“I urge all dog owners to remember that livestock worrying is a crime that has a devastating impact both emotionally and financially. When walking your dog near livestock please ensure it is on a lead so that such incidents can be avoided and we can all enjoy our wonderful countryside.”

The NFU has successfully campaigned for changes to the law to curb out-of-control dogs and it is campaigning for leads to become law when dogs are walked near farm animals.

Last month, the NFU released the results of a survey that found almost nine out of 10 (82.39%) people questioned in the region said that visiting the countryside and farmland had improved their physical or mental wellbeing – with more than half (52.06%) saying it had helped improve both.

Countless popular rural tourist spots are on working farmland, with many farmers working hard to maintain footpaths and public rights of way so visitors can enjoy our beautiful countryside. One of the key lessons learned from the COVID-19 outbreak has been the importance of people adhering to the Countryside Code when they visit the countryside for exercise or recreation. However, the sheer volume of visitors during lockdown and subsequently did cause issues in some areas, with an increase in dog attacks on livestock among other problems including trespass.

Original news item shared courtesy of NFU South East.

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