DOG owners are been warned police could have their animals destroyed if they are out of control and attacking grazing animals in the New Forest.
The warning was issued at a recent meeting of the Verderers’ Court when official verderer Lord Manners highlighted a worrying spike in reports of dogs chasing and attacking livestock.
Referring to an incident at Wilverley when a New Forest keeper saw a dog chasing a young calf, Lord Manners said: “The keeper was able to speak to the owner and the matter was reported to the police, who have spoken to the person responsible.”
He continued: “I’m glad to say that the dog owner has responded constructively and agreed to walk fewer dogs at any one time – as up to nine were being walked – in order to have greater control.”
The court heard that following the incident, the police made it clear that if they received reports of further problems, or if livestock was injured, they would consider issuing a dog behaviour order.
Lord Manners warned in the worst cases officers had the power to seek an order for the destruction of the dog concerned.
It emerged that a second incident of a large dog chasing a foal at Janesmoor Pond had also been reported to the police, and the owner of the animal was also spoken to.
On another occasion a German shepherd dog was spotted chasing a large group of ponies near Ferny Crofts in Beaulieu, which led some to run out into the road. Lord Manners said the women walking the dog had tried calling it back but were unsuccessful. The meeting heard the police attended, as well as NFDC’s environment team, which has different powers to impose penalties on dog owners.
While thanking the force, Forest keepers and district council for their help in dealing with the spate of dog menace incidents, Lord Manners warned that the importance of keeping dogs under proper control could not be overestimated.
“Not only is stock being injured and killed by out-of-control dogs, but the worrying of livestock by dogs can make them behave in a much more unpredictable way around people with or without dogs,” warned Lord Manners. “Please keep your distance from stock at all times, especially if you have a dog.”
He concluded: “The New Forest is a wonderful place to walk dogs and long may it remain so. I urge all dog walkers not only to behave responsibly themselves, but also to do whatever they can to encourage other dog walkers to do likewise, for the benefit of all.”
Heather Gould, chairman of the New Forest Dog Owners Group, described the recent increase in attacks as “appalling”. She said: “We are very much an organisation that supports free dog walking but with that comes a responsibility.
“We would absolutely urge anyone with a young dog or a visitor to the Forest to keep their animals on a lead and under control around livestock until they are absolutely confident [the dog] won’t chase them and that they have good recall.”