NSA Sheep Worrying Fortnight #LeadOn
Date: 30th April 2021 - 13th May 2021
The National sheep Association (NSA) 2021 campaign highlighting the impact of sheep worrying by dogs came to a close on Friday 14th May, with the sheep farming charity hopeful that increased awareness of the issue is beginning to filter through to further areas of the general public.
This year’s NSA campaign titled #LeadOn attracted interest from a wide range of national broadcasters and press including BBC Breakfast, ITV Good Morning Britain and The Times as well as numerous regional television and radio programmes and newspapers.
With the campaign’s coverage and the news in early May of a commitment for long awaited change to legislation surrounding the issue of sheep worrying by dogs NSA hopes that an increase in awareness and understanding of the country’s dog owners on the seriousness of the problem could finally be achieved.
NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: “NSA has worked tirelessly for many years to raise awareness of sheep worrying by dogs and part of this has been efforts to achieve a change in legislation in England and Wales protecting sheep farmers more effectively from dog attacks. This year’s campaign seems to have really caught the attention of the media and we are of course grateful to have had this platform from which to share our important messages.
“NSA was pleased to welcome the announcement in the Queen’s speech this week that the police are to be given new powers to respond more effectively to the most serious incidents of sheep worrying. Following the recent acceptance of the new legislation in Scotland that sees dog owners facing fines of up to £40,000 and possible prison sentences for the most serious of offenders we hope the UK will soon be an equal playing field for legislation on this matter.”
Throughout NSA’s two week campaign the #LeadOn hashtag was used across social media by farmers, dog owners and allied industries to show their support for NSA’s call for increased responsible dog ownership and stricter legislation helping sheep farmers who are affected by dog attacks. NSA has also held a series of interactive webinars and workshops during the campaign that are now available to watch again on the NSA website at www.nationalsheep.org.uk/webinars.
#LeadOn began at the end of April with the launch of NSA’s sheep worrying by dogs survey results that revealed a concerning increase in cases of sheep worrying by dogs over the past year. More than two thirds of the UK’s sheep farmers responding to the survey experienced an increase in attacks with each farmer on average experiencing seven separate incidents during the past year resulting in five sheep injured and two sheep killed per attack.
But worryingly in addition to the threat to animal welfare and the farmer’s income perhaps the most concerning finding to be taken from the survey was the effect the issue is having on the mental wellbeing of the country’s sheep farmers. Farmers completing the survey reported feelings of anxiety, anger, upset, stress and frustration as a result of sheep worrying by dog attacks with more than half recognising that this was causing a moderate to severe impact on their mental health.